Changes in China’s steelmaking industry have prompted new interest in developing magnetite mines in the Mid West and an industrial site at Oakajee.

Mid West Development Commission chief executive Gavin Treasure said Chinese efforts to curb pollution in the industry had resulted in discounting of hematite and higher premiums for magnetite.

The Mid West has a largely untapped magnetite resource.

“We are now seeing interested parties, three different consortiums, investigating the viability of unlocking magnetite potential in the Mid West,” Mr Treasure said.

“They are a combination of Chinese and Australian interests who have not been around for a long time — now coming back and looking at the region.

“All three consortiums are going through feasibility studies to prove the feasibility of their projects and we are in contact with all of them.”

Mr Treasure said two of the consortiums were looking at port solutions at Oakajee and the other was looking at Geraldton.

“The Oakajee industrial site can happen in its own right and we are talking to a number of players around activating industrial land there,” he said.

“The port is another component again. Rigorous work needs to be done in relation to logistics and costs of delivering.

“Funds are being invested to look at viability and they wouldn’t be doing that unless they thought there was potential.

“But we are not there yet. It’s a work in progress.”