KUMBA Iron Ore opened its R8,5bn Kolomela mine in the Northern Cape on Friday, a project that will add 9-million tons to the company's output from 2013.

The mine, situated about 80km away from its Sishen mine, delivered its first ore to the Saldanha harbour five months ahead of schedule.

"The delivery of the Kolomela project is in line with Kumba's growth strategy of ramping up South African production to 70-million tons per annum by 2019," Kumba CEO Chris Griffith said.

The board of Anglo American, which owns 65% of Kumba, pushed ahead with the project despite the onset of the global financial crisis at the end of 2008.

Kolomela produced 1,5-million tons by the end of 2011 and will produce between 4-million and 5-million tons this year.

Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll said it was critical for Anglo to deliver low-cost products to an extremely competitive global market.

Anglo expected continued growth in China and India, which would be supplemented by growth in the US, she said.

seccombe@bdfm.co.za