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Arrium ships iron ore out of improved port

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MELBOURNE, Dec 24 AAP

December 24 2012, 12:13AM

Steelmaker and iron ore miner Arrium has shipped iron ore from its northern South Australian mines out of a newly expanded Whyalla Port for the first time.

The move is the next stage in the company's ambition to become Australia's fourth-largest iron ore miner, doubling iron ore sales to 12 million tonnes a year (mtpa) by next July or August.

It is significant because Arrium can now transport ore from its Southern Iron operations south to Whyalla, which is a distance of about 600km compared to the 2,200km travelled to ship it out of Darwin in October.

Arrium has been shipping iron ore from of its Middlebank Ranges mines near Whyalla since 2007 but only acquired the Southern Iron mines further north in 2011.

Chief executive Geoff Plummer said Arrium was on time and budget for increasing its port capacity to 13mtpa and lifting export iron ore sales to 11mtpa by June next year, and then 12mtpa by July/August.

The company was spun off as a steelmaker by BHP Billiton in 2000 but has since diversified into iron ore mining and mining consumables.

Arrium shares were one cent lower at 89 cents at midday.