BlueScope invests in New Zealand site

BlueScope continues to provide evidence of its improving fortunes, announcing it will invest another $50 million in its iron sands operation in New Zealand.

The Port Kembla steelmaker will add another ship to its operations there, adding a further 1.3 million tonnes to the export capacity at the Taharoa site.

BlueScope will charter the 175,000 tonne capacity slurry loading ship, and spend the money on mining, processing and ship loading equipment.

The Taharoa site is on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island, south-west of Hamilton.

Extracting the iron ore from its own sand mining operation means BlueScope can gain some freedom from relying on costlier iron ore from Western Australia.

Announcing the plan last week, BlueScope chief executive Paul O'Malley said the expansion at Taharoa would earn export dollars for the firm, as well as provide low-cost iron ore for its New Zealand steelmaking operations.

BlueScope's New Zealand operations accounted for 8 per cent of the company's revenue last year at $681 million.

It is anticipated BlueScope is likely to hire more workers at Taharoa during the expansion.

The Taharoa site's Maori owners lease the land to Bluescope.

The iron sands mine has operated there for 40 years and BlueScope told the Australian Securities Exchange it had good grounds to believe there was enough of the resource there to sustain another 15 years of extraction, at 4 million tonnes per year.

It is one of two sites where BlueScope extracts iron sand in New Zealand, along with the Waikato North Head mine. BlueScope also operates the Glenbrook steel mill south of Auckland.

On Tuesday BlueScope shares rose 7c to $5.82, their highest price in more than 12 months.

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