05/08/2010

Rio Tinto: Expansion of Pilbara capacity to 330 Mtpa

Rio Tinto is to invest a further US$790 million in its drive to expand the annual capacity of iron ore operations in the Pilbara to 330 million tonnes. This brings total investment funds approved in recent weeks to US$1 billion.

The Pilbara 330 expansion centres on increasing the Rio Tinto's port at Cape Lambert from its current annual capacity of 80 million tonnes to 180 million tonnes by 2016. This will be achieved through construction of a new 1.8 kilometre jetty and four-berth wharf to run parallel to the existing jetty and four-berth wharf.

On 14 July, Rio Tinto announced that it would spend US$200 million on dredging works for the Cape Lambert expansion. The investment announced comprises US$375 million for marine works related to the construction of the new wharf, and US$415 million for the procurement of long lead items such as pile and marine structure and on-shore earthworks and machines.

Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore and Australia Sam Walsh said the new investment highlighted Rio Tinto's intention to forge ahead with the expansion.

"Rio Tinto has a proven track record of managing large-scale iron ore development projects, and has successfully implemented three significant increases in port capacity in the past seven years - Dampier to 140 million tonnes and Cape Lambert to 80 million tonnes," he said.

"As with previous expansions, a key factor in this project will be minimising any disruption to existing operations and production schedules. We are confident this will be achieved."

The early construction works are dependent upon a number of government and other approvals, including that of the Robe River joint venture partners. A final investment decision is expected to be made by the end of this year.

Source: Rio Tinto