Kumba Iron Ore officially opened a new mine in the Northern Cape on Friday, the company said.
Kolomela Mine, near Postmasburg, was opened by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.
Northern Cape government officials attended the launch, as did Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll, and members of Kumba's board.
Customers from China, Korea, Japan, India, and Austria, and Kumba's contractors and partners were also present.
The ceremony marked an important milestone for Kumba and Anglo American, said Kumba CEO Chris Griffith.
“This project has had an excellent track record since inception,” he said.
The mine development had been completed within budget.
It had an excellent safety record, with 26 million lost-time injury-free hours.
In addition, it had begun dispatching iron ore to the port of Saldanha five months ahead of schedule.
Throughout the project, 15,000 people had worked on Kolomela, in one of the poorest provinces of the country.
At full production, the mine would employ 840 permanent staff and 150 contractors.
More than 90 percent of them would come from the Northern Cape.
“Kolomela mine is one of the three big projects delivered by Anglo American on or ahead of schedule in 2011,” said Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll.
Barro Alto and Los Bronces were the other two projects.
“This excellent performance will contribute significant new volumes of iron ore, copper, and nickel to Anglo American's portfolio as the new operations continue to ramp up throughout 2012.”
Kolomela was on track to produce between four and five million tons of ore this year, said Kumba.
It would ramp up to its full nine million tons in 2013.
The mine's delivery was in line with Kumba's growth strategy of increasing the South African production to 70 million tons per annum by 2019.
A 36km rail link has already been constructed by Transnet to link the mine with the Sishen-Saldanha Iron Ore Export Channel.
“This was a true collaborative effort between the project and operations teams, and a number of external contractors, particularly Transnet Freight Rail, who pulled together to deliver, showing dedication, commitment and enthusiasm,” said Griffith. - Sapa