Area C mine

The Area C mine is an iron ore mine located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 92 kilometres west-north-west of Newman.[1]

Area C mine
Area C mine
Location in Australia
StateWestern Australia
Coordinates22°55′12″S 118°58′28″E
ProductsIron ore
Production55 million tonnes/annum
CompanyBHP Billiton
Itochu Minerals (8%)
Mitsui Iron (7%)
WebsiteBHP Billiton website

The mine is majority-owned (85 percent)[2] and operated by BHP Billiton, and is one of seven iron ore mines the company operates in the Pilbara. The company also operates two port facilities at Port Hedland, Nelson Point and Finucane Island, and over 1,000 kilometres of rail in the Pilbara.[3] The Area C mine is part of the Mount Goldsworthy joint venture, together with the Yarrie and Nimingarra mine, with the latter two being in care and maintenance since 2014 and 2007 respectively.[2]

BHP Billiton is the second-largest iron ore mining company in the Pilbara, behind Rio Tinto and ahead of the Fortescue Metals Group.[4] As of 2010, BHP employs 8,000 people in its Pilbara operations.[3]


The Area C mine was officially opened on 30 October 2003 by the then-Premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, but ore was railed from the mine to the port already on 16 August.[5] However, bulk samples of the ore had been mined and send to customers since late 2001.[6] The mine was initially scheduled to produce 15 million tonnes of iron ore annually.[7]

Ore from the BHP mines is transported by rail to Port Hedland through two independent railways. The Mount Newman railway carries ore from Mount Whaleback, Orebodies 18, 23, 25 and 29, Jimblebar, Yandi and Area C. The Yarrie mine is serviced by the separate, shorter Goldsworthy railway.[8]

Ore from the Mount Whaleback and the other Newman mines, as well as the Yandi mine is transported to the port at Nelson Point, while ore from Area C and Yarrie goes to Finucane Island. Ore is transported through a 1.16 kilometre long tunnel from Nelson Point to the port at Finucane Island. The average loading time for a ship is 30 hours and 800 ships are loaded annually at Port Hedland.[9]

Mining operations within BHP throughout the Pilbara were briefly suspended in September 2008 to focus on safety after two fatalities at the Yandi mine within 10 days of each other.[10] Following this, mining has resumed, and is currently under the operation of the project manager - Liam Sales.


  1. MINEDEX website: Area C search result Archived 2008-09-11 at the Wayback Machine accessed: 6 November 2010
  2. BHP Billiton Annual report 2010 BHP Billiton website, accessed: 10 November 2010
  3. About BHP Billiton Iron Ore BHP Billiton website, accessed: 10 November 2010
  4. Western Australian Mineral and Petroleum Statistic Digest 2009 Department of Mines and Petroleum website, accessed: 8 November 2010
  5. BHP Billiton's Area C Mine Officially Opened BHP Billiton website, published: 30 October 2003, accessed: 10 November 2010
  6. The Australian Mines Handbook - 2003-04 edition, editor: Ross Louthean, publisher: Louthean Media Pty Ltd, page: 241
  7. This month in mining: BHP Billiton commits to major iron ore project Engineering and Mining Journal, published: May 2002, accessed: 12 November 2010
  8. Rail Archived April 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine BHP Billiton website, accessed: 10 November 2010
  9. Ports BHP Billiton website, accessed: 10 November 2010
  10. BHP suspends WA iron works after second mining death The Australian, published: 5 September 2008, accessed: 12 November 2010
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