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PERTH, Jan 2 AAP

January 02 2013, 3:49PM

Gindalbie Metals shares have surged 11 per cent after the miner shipped its first cargo of magnetite from the Karara iron ore project in Western Australia after extensive delays.

The company says the $2.6 billion project is on track to achieve full production capability of eight million tonnes per annum by the end of April 2013.

The shipment of 55,000 tonnes of magnetite concentrate, which was well behind schedule, is now headed for China after leaving Geraldton Terminal on Tuesday.

Gindalbie managing director Tim Netscher said it was the first-ever significant shipment of magnetite from WA and the company would continue to ramp up production.

"While 2012 has without doubt been a tough year for Gindalbie from a share market perspective, this should not overshadow the very significant operational achievements of the year," Mr Netscher said in a statement.

"I am confident that the underlying value of our project will flow through over the coming year."

Magnetite iron ore requires intensive processing, unlike hematite iron ore which does not require processing.

In November 2011, Gindalbie pushed its first shipment date back from June 2012 because of issues with the main piping supplier.

Gindalbie's joint-venture partner and largest shareholder, China's Angang Steel Company Ltd (Ansteel), has a 50 per cent stake in the Karara project.

On Wednesday, the iron ore price rose about four per cent to $US144.90.

At 1544 AEDT, Gindalbie shares were 2.75 cents, or 11 per cent, higher at 27.75 cents after peaking at 28.5 in earlier trade.

In early December, Karara passed a milestone of one million tonnes of hematite shipped.

Gindalbie shares have risen more than 21 per cent since December 7.

Shares in the company peaked at $1.62 in August 2007 amid record iron ore prices.

Gindalbie said it planned to give further guidance on the progress of its project at the company's December Quarterly Report, which was due for release in mid-January 2013.

By Kim Christian