Surface miners perform at Nullagine Friday, 16 October 2009 Kate Haycock ON A bolstering day for the junior end of the iron ore industry, BC Iron said today trial mining at its Nullagine project has so far supported the technical viability of the Pilbara iron ore joint venture with Fortescue Metals Group, including the use of surface miners. Since trial mining began around a month ago, some 65,000 tonnes of ore has been mined, using surface miners, and hauled from the east end of the Outcamp deposit. Some 43,000t of ore has been crushed, and crushing and screening will continue for the rest of October. The Vermeer surface miner assisting with trial mining at BC said the results from trial mining had so far been encouraging. Nullagine. Assay results from the first of three pits exceeded Robe River ore specifications, one of the major requirements of BC Iron’s joint venture with Fortescue Metals Group. Additionally, the trial of the surface miners showed the technology worked as expected, with results consistent with the feasibility study. BC Iron managing director Mike Young said the company was pleased with the results so far, especially with the performance of the surface miners. Full test pit findings will be released in coming months before the planned start date of construction at the project early next year. The feasibility study into the project was based on a direct shipping ore project of 1.5 million tonnes per annum ramping up to 3Mtpa and then 5Mtpa. In June, BC Iron and FMG entered into a JV deal to develop the Nullagine project with FMG able to earn a 50% stake by meeting its JV obligations. Shares in BC Iron were last traded at $1.165, up 5.5c or 5% on the back of the news and BHP Billiton’s bid for United Minerals Corporation. FMG’s shares were last at $4.17, 2% or 8% higher.