FMG CEO Elizabeth Gaines, deputy chairman Mark Barnaba, chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman and other board and senior management were joined at Eliwana yesterday by Western Australian mines minister Bill Johnston and representatives of native title partners the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP).
"Eliwana is the next important stage of development of Fortescue's world-class, integrated operations," Gaines said.
"Exploration commenced in this area in 2006, and we have now delivered a new 30 million tonne per annum dry ore processing facility and infrastructure, along with 143 kilometres of rail which is in the final stages of construction."
Eliwana will improve the quality of FMG's product mix by producing the higher grade 60.1% West Pilbara Fines.
"Eliwana will see us maintain our low-cost status and provide us with greater flexibility across our product mix," Gaines said.
"Construction of the mine, village and infrastructure was completed safely over a 12-month period, in line with budget and schedule.
"Fortescue has a vision to drive economic growth and contribute to thriving local communities, and our investment in the Eliwana mine and rail project will continue our strong track record of delivering against this goal."
Johnston congratulated FMG on the project, which he said would deliver a significant boost to the WA economy.
"This important project created around 2000 jobs during construction and will create 500 full-time site positions as the team move into operations," he said.
Gaines said FMG had awarded A$1.83 billion of Eliwana contracts to Australian businesses, including 290 WA businesses and $150 million to Aboriginal businesses.
Aboriginal people represent 14% of the Eliwana workforce, while women comprise 23%.
FMG shares were trading near a record today, rising 0.7% to $21.62. The stock is up 18% over the past five days due to the strength in the iron ore price, which currently trades at US$145 per tonne.