Metals & Minerals
ITOCHU has been involved in iron ore joint ventures in the Pilbara region of Western Australia with BHP through ITOCHU Minerals & Energy of Australia Pty Ltd (IMEA), a major resource company, since 1967. The annual production capacity of these ventures are approximately 280 million tons, and in April 2019, IMEA celebrated 50th anniversary of the 1st shipment of iron ore from the Mt. Newman Project. The project has faced many challenges over the last 50 years, but, we have overcome each one of these challenges and developed the Newman Project into one of the most successful mines around the world.
In 1977, ITOCHU – along with Nisho Iwai (now known as Sojitz) and Kobe Steel – became joint venture partners with BHP Billiton (at that time, BHP), Reynolds, Shell in the development of Worsley project to mine bauxite and produce alumina. In 1980, the Japanese holding was repositioned through the creation of Kobe Alumina Associates (Australia) – since 2003, known as Japan Alumina Associates (Australia) Pty Ltd (JAAL) – to hold a 10% interest in the Worsley alumina project. This entity was owned 40% by Kobe Steel, 35% by Nissho Iwai and 25% by ITOCHU.
In 2002, the original holding vehicle for the Japanese equity stake, Kobe Alumina Associates (KAA), was restructured and renamed – as Japan Alumina Associates (Australia) Pty Ltd (JAAL). Kobe Steel, the original major stakeholder in KAA, sold down its 45% stake in the holding vehicle to ITOCHU and Sojitz. ITOCHU took a greater proportion of Kobe Steel’s holding in order that the two trading companies would each hold a 50% share of JAAL, giving each, proportionally, a 5% equity stake of the total Worsley joint venture. Worsley Alumina Refinery is, currently, run as an annual production capacity of 4.6 million tonnes of calcined alumina, which is one of the largest and most cost-competitive alumina producers in the world.
1.Mt. Newman Joint Venture
The Mt. Newman Joint Venture’s (BHP 85%, Mitsui-ITOCHU Iron (MII) 10%, IMEA 5%) operations are centered on the large Mt Whaleback and adjacent satellite ore bodies. Mt. Whaleback is our primary iron ore body, with the hematite ore striking east-west for about 5.5km, having a pit width of about 2km. Development of Mt Whaleback began in 1967 and the first ore was shipped in 1969.