Iron ore (5)
Workers remove the cloth covering the iron ore from Australia while they prepare for transporting at a port in Tianjin municipality, March 29, 2010. Reuters/Vincent Du

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the BBI Group (BBIG) and China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) for the development of the Balla Balla Infrastructure (BBI) iron ore project in Western Australia. As part of the project, stranded iron ores will be linked with export markets.

The project will include the construction of an iron ore mine near Whim Creek, between Port Hedland and Karratha. It is expected to generate between 6 million and 10 million tonnes of iron ore a year.

In addition, it includes a new 162 kilometre railway line connecting stranded iron ore deposits with a port at Balla Banna. “The MOU between BBIG and CSCEC recognises the critical importance of a Pilbara experienced workforce to the successful delivery of the project,” BBI said in a statement. The project will require 3,300 workers during construction and is expected to create as many as 900 permanent jobs.

CSCEC, as one of the largest construction companies internationally, delivers large-scale projects like port and rail infrastructure. It is operational in 20 countries across the world.

BBI Group, owned by New Zealand’s Todd Corporation and Nyco, is an investment company. It is owned by Sydney businessman and former Lynas Corporation boss Nic Curtis. The company’s decision concerning a final investment in Balla Balla, or secure financing for the project, remains awaited. The future will be dependent on the price of iron ore.

The MoU was signed by the involved companies in Canberra. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese premier Li Keqiang were present during the ceremony. As part of the document, CSCEC will be required to utilise Pilbara sub-contractors for all “on-the-ground” delivery. In January, a State Agreement was signed between BBI and the former State Government over the project.

BBIG chair Jon Young said the partnership came as good news for the project. “To have signed such an important MoU for our project in the presence of the Australian prime minister and the Chinese premier confirms the strength and international significance of the BBI Project,” Young said.

“We are pleased to have secured the confidence and support of China State Construction Engineering Corporation, an internationally significant construction partner who possesses world class experience in the delivery of large scale infrastructure projects, including port and rail infrastructure,” he added. “The MOU between BBIG and CSCEC recognises the critical importance of a Pilbara experienced workforce to the successful delivery of the project.”