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Construction has officially begun on Fortescue’s Eliwana mine and rail project in the Pilbara, Western Australia, a $US1.275 billion ($A1.8 billion) venture that will allow Fortescue to deliver the majority of its products at a higher grade of iron ore.

The project includes 143km of rail, a new dry ore processing facility that can process 30 million tonnes per annum and related insfrastructure including camps.

Company executives said the project 90km west of Tom Price in WA would use the latest technology including autonomous trucks.

The rail will connect with Fortescue’s existing Hamersley line to Port Hedland.

It will create 1,900 jobs during construction and 500 full-time positions once operational, which is expected to be in December 2020.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan joined company executives for the official sod turning of the project on Friday.