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Fortescue finds the funds to turn bullish again

World no.4 iron ore mine Fortescue Metals Group may be able to revive a plan to triple its iron ore capacity, having been armed with an extra $US500 million ($488 million) after its lenders completed the distribution of $US5 billion in debt.

Fortescue last month slammed the breaks on plans to expand its capacity to 155 million tonnes following a sharp and prolonged slide in iron ore prices to a three-year low of $US87 a tonne, a price at which the company would have struggled to manage its then $US11.7 billion debt load.

It slashed its expansion target to 115 million tonnes, scrambled to line up a $US4.5 billion credit facility with no earnings-based covenants to refinance debt and pay off a loan from its earliest backer, US investment firm Leucadia National Corp.

With iron ore prices having rebounded nearly one-third to $US115 over the past month, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan managed to increase the credit facility to $US5 billion, at Libor plus 4.25 per cent, putting Fortescue in a better position to go ahead with its ambitious expansion.

"Subject to iron ore market conditions, this additional liquidity will enable detailed consideration of the recommencement of the Kings expansion," Fortescue said today.

Investors are likely to hear more tomorrow, when Fortescue holds a briefing after releasing its September quarter production report.