Gina Rinehart is set to become the world’s fifth-largest iron ore exporter after securing $US7.
2 billion ($A7.98 billion) in South Korean and Japanese-dominated debt funding.
Australia’s richest person has defied negative publicity about falling prices, a looming oversupply of iron ore and China’s slowing growth to win support from a global consortium of lenders for her $US10 billion project.
Ms Rinehart is now likely to realise a family lifelong dream to build a mine and operate it in the Pilbara.
The bulk of her current near $20 billion in wealth is attributable to her share of profits at the Rio Tinto-operated Hope Downs mine.
Her father, Lang Hancock, discovered the world’s largest iron ore deposit in Western Australia’s Pilbara more than 60 years ago.
Ms Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, is aiming to ship 55 million tonnes a year and begin in September next year.
Only four miners ship more: fellow Pilbara producers Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals and Brazil’s Vale.
The company described the funding package as the largest for a land mining project in the world.
There were currently 2,500 people working on building the Roy Hill project, which would rise to 3,600 later this year with 2000 permanent staff to be employed at the operating mine, Ms Rinehart said in a statement.
Many commodity analysts are warning of slowdowns in the iron ore market as China moves away from steel intensive urbanisation to consumption.
Morningstar analyst Mark Taylor said the 70 per cent-plus debt component of the projects costs were at the upper limits of mining projects.
“It is interesting that the banks are all pretty keen on funding iron ore and mining,” he told AAP.
Roy Hill is at risk of cost blowouts and delays in finalising the funding announced on Thursday night mean it is behind its original schedules to have started production by last year.
However senior resources analyst Gavin Wendt, a director of MineLife, said he thought the funding deal was a triumph for Ms Rinehart.
“Good on her … It is an important project, Roy Hill, as you don’t typically find high quality premium iron ore projects in many parts of the world and not low political risk destinations like Australia,” he told AAP.
The backing of the banks and export credit agencies indicated they were confident the mine’s margins, costs and ore quality were strong enough to handle price falls, Mr Wendt said.
Japan’s Marubeni and South Korea’s POSCO are major shareholders and export credit agencies and banks from those countries will supply much of the funding.
Mr Wendt pointed out that Japan and South Korea’s more-developed economies produced a higher quality steel than China and demanded high quality Pilbara products but China would increasingly do so in the future.