The Pardoo project is about 75 kilometres east of Port Hedland in WA. Pardoo was Atlas Iron’s first producing iron ore mine, having begun operations in October 2008. The operation produces a quality low-alumina direct shipping ore (DSO) product from a number of open-pits. Ore is mined at Pardoo by a conventional truck-and-backhoe mining fleet, before being crushed and screened on site and delivered to port by covered road trains.
Pardoo produced 1,288,000 tonnes per annum to December 31, 2010, and had produced 883,000t to June 30, 2011. The operation’s proven probable reserves totalled 5,031,000t grading 57.100 per cent iron at June 30, 2011, and it’s measured, indicated and inferred resource totalled 18,199,000t grading 56.228 per cent iron.
The Pardoo project predominantly overlies rocks of the Ord greenstone belt. It straddles the boundary between the east Pilbara granite-greenstone terrane and the Central Pilbara tectonic zone marked in this region by the Pardoo fault. The east-north-east trending Pardoo fault separates the Ord greenstone belt in the north from the Goldsworthy greenstone belt in the south. Fine-grained clastic and chemical metasedimentary rocks of the Gorge Creek group dominate the outcrop and are assigned to the Nimingarra formation.
Strike equivalents of this formation host BHP Billiton’s Goldsworthy, Shay Gap and Yarrie iron ore operations, and De Grey Mining’s Turner River gold deposits lie to the east and south-west of the Pardoo/Goldsworthy project area respectively. Access to the project is via the Great Northern Highway, which transects the southern portion of the project area. BHP Billiton owns and operates the Goldsworthy railway line, which runs parallel to the highway.
Atlas has defined 14 separate DSO resources and one channel iron deposit resource at Pardoo, as well as the world-class Ridley magnetite project. The continued exploration potential of the area was demonstrated in late 2008 with the discovery of a high-grade hematite body to the east of the Alice deposit. This discovery, Alice East, was the highest-grade drilling intersection ever recorded at Pardoo and yet it was made in an area that had already been covered by wider-spaced exploration drilling.