Shareholders in Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill project have tipped in a further $624 million over recent months in a bid to keep the project going until debt funding can be secured.
The extra payments were described in Roy Hill's annual results, which were published by ASIC over the past 24 hours.
The big iron ore project, which is being developed by Mrs Rinehart in partnership with Korean steel giant Posco, Japan's Marubeni and China Steel Corporation, had originally hoped to have its $US7-billion debt package secured by March.
But that process is still under way, meaning the joint venture partners were asked to pay further instalments on their stakes sooner rather than later. "The directors resolved that further calls on partly paid shares be made sufficient to meet existing current commitments in order to progress project activities," the company said in its full year results. "In the quarter ended September 30, 2013, call notices totalling $624,000,000 were made and paid by shareholders."
Mrs Rinehart's main company, Hancock Prospecting, will own 70 per cent of the project. The Roy Hill debt package is expected to include $US3 billion from commercial banks and the organisation does much of its banking with NAB.
A further $US4 billion is expected to be supplied by the export credit agencies of nations such as South Korea, the US and Japan. Roy Hill reiterated that securing the debt package was central to the project taking the next step.
"The group intends to continue its principal activities as set out above during the year, with any change dependent [among other factors] on the progress of the debt capital raising," the company said.
The debt is planned to be finalised before Christmas and first ore shipped before the end of 2015.
JPMorgan recently predicted that Roy Hill would go ahead, but with a minimum six-month delay.
"A debt package of that order of magnitude may be difficult to secure without a further potential sell-down of the project," it said in a research note.
Mining companies often record several years of losses before they come into production, and Roy Hill has proved no different, reporting a loss of $315 million for the year to June 30, 2013.
Hancock Prospecting, is a significant shareholder in Fairfax Media, the owner of this newspaper.