BC Iron was formed in 2006 through the amalgamation of Alkane Exploration and Ukrainian-owned Consolidated Minerals’ iron ore assets in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. BC Iron listed on the ASX in December 2006 with a market capitalisation of approximately $14 million. The Company transitioned from an explorer to a producer in just over four years.
BC Iron established a 50:50 joint venture with Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) in 2009 known as the Nullagine Iron Ore Joint Venture (NJV) and achieved a significant and historical milestone by successfully becoming the first junior mining company to access and utilise third party rail owned by a major company in the Pilbara in January 2011.
This was quickly followed by the NJV’s first iron ore export in February 2011. BC Iron is the third company to use Fortescue’s Herb Elliott Port to export iron ore from Port Hedland, showing third party access to rail and port infrastructure is a reality.
Since commencing operations, BC Iron has focused on ramping up and optimising the NJV. The initial target production rate of 3Mtpa was achieved in November 2011 and nameplate production rate of 5Mtpa was reached in May 2012 (both ahead of schedule).
In FY2012, the first full year of operations, the NJV exported a total of 3.55Mt of iron ore. BC Iron delivered outstanding financial results for FY2012, with net profit after tax of approximately $51 million. The Company rewarded shareholders by declaring a maiden dividend of 15 cents per share (fully franked), totalling $15.6 million and a dividend payout ratio of 31%.
In December 2012, BC Iron agreed with joint venture partner, Fortescue, to increase the Company’s interest in the NJV from 50% to 75% (effective from 1 January 2013) and increase the available infrastructure capacity and hence production of the NJV to 6Mtpa. BC Iron’s attributable production from the NJV increased from 2.5Mtpa to 4.5Mtpa.
In September 2013, a 50:50 alliance between BC Iron and Cleveland Mining Company Limited (Cleveland) entered into agreements to earn the rights to acquire up to an 80% interest in a number of greenfields iron ore exploration tenements in the Brazilian states of Bahia and Minas Gerais. Exploration at these projects commenced in late-2013.
In August 2014, BC Iron announced a recommended off-market takeover offer for Iron Ore Holdings Limited (IOH). The transaction delivers BC Iron two advanced iron ore projects – Buckland and Iron Valley – and a number other earlier stage projects and royalties over third party projects in the Pilbara.