Metro Mining Ltd is pleased to announce the commencement of mining operations at the Bauxite Hills mine, which will be the largest independent mine in Weipa Bauxite Region. Metro is mining at an initial rate of 2 Mt/y and, subject to expansion capital, will ramp up to a steady-state 6 Mt/y over the first four years. Government approvals are in place to mine up to 10 Mt/y. Metro’s first shipment has been purchased by China’s Xinfa Group one of the largest integrated aluminium companies in China. Xinfa has significant refining and smelting operations in Shandong, Shanxi, Guangxi and Xinjiang Provinces.Metro has a four year binding off-take agreement to supply Xinfa with 1 Mt in the first year followed by 2 Mt foreach of the next three years. The first vessel has been booked to arrive on 19 April to collect a cargo of around 60,000 t of bauxite bound for China’s Shandong Province. Metro Mining Managing Director & CEO Simon Finnis said the Bauxite Hills Mine would be a globally significant bauxite mining operation and would feed the ever-growing seaborne bauxite market.“The Bauxite Hills Mine will become the largest independent mine within the internationally acclaimed Weipa Bauxite Region,” Finnis said. “Commencement of mining operations is a credit to the entire Metro team. Site management and the mining, marine and construction personnel have delivered the project in a very short time-frame and are to be congratulated. It was an extraordinary achievement to complete most of construction of a world class mine in just five months.” The Bauxite Hills Mine has an estimated Ore Reserve of 92.2 Mt and a total Resource of 144.8 Mt with an estimated 17-year mine life.The mine may be extended through conversion of existing Bauxite Hills Resources to Reserves and from possible exploration success in the surrounding regional tenements. The Bauxite Hills Mine is expected to employ up to 200 people including a significant indigenous workforce target.