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AUS$1.55 billion investment to sustain production capacity at two Robe River projects

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

Anglo-Australian metals and mining company Rio Tinto, along with joint venture (JV) partners Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, have approved an investment of AUS$1.55 billion (Rio Tinto’s 53% share equates to AUS$820 million) to sustain production capacity at two projects which form part of the Robe River JV in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The JV partners are to invest AUS$967 million (Rio Tinto’s share equates to AUS$513 million) to develop the Mesa B, C and H deposits at Robe Valley, and AUS$579 million (Rio Tinto's share equates to AUS$307 million) in developing deposits C and D at the existing West Angelas operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. These investments will reportedly enable Rio Tinto to sustain production of the Pilbara Blend and its Robe Valley lump and fines products.

According to Rio Tinto, subject to government and environmental approvals, construction of both projects is expected to start next year with an estimated 1200 jobs created during this phase. First ore is currently anticipated from 2021.

These investments will also provide significant opportunities for local businesses as part of Rio Tinto’s commitment to local procurement and supporting WA businesses.

Once up and running, both projects are to feature the latest technology with 34 existing haul trucks to be retrofitted with autonomous haulage system (AHS) technology, delivering safety and productivity gains to the business.


Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Chris Salisbury, said: “The development at West Angelas will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend, the industry’s benchmark premium iron ore product, while the additional Robe Valley deposits will enable us to continue to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers across Asia.”

“The approval of these two projects highlights the strong pipeline of development options within our portfolio as we remain focused on our value-over-volume strategy.”

Rio Tinto’s funding commitment for both projects of AUS$820 million forms part of the company’s existing replacement capital guidance of around AUS$2.7 billion from 2018 to 2020.

Rio Tinto owns a 53% holding in the Robe River JV, with Mitsui holding 33% and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation holding 14%.

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Australian mining news