Worlds second largest miner Rio Tinto said Monday it will begin developing its Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australias Pilbara region next year, highlighting parallel plans to de-bottleneck rail capacity, which should increase it to 360 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) in 2019. The miner also said it would mine its first tonnes from the project, which it says its one of the worlds most technologically advanced, in 2021.
The announcement comes on the heels of BHPs decision to invest $ 2.9bn for the development of the South Flank iron ore project in the central Pilbara, which will replace depleting resources at the mining giants Western Australian operations and up its average grade from the region in the process.
Rio also said that Pilbara sustaining capital would be about $ 1 billion over each of the next three years, including replacement mines at West Angelas, Robe Valley and Koodaideri, with the latter still to be formally approved. Salisbury noted that Rios autonomous rail project AutoHaul was on schedule to be implemented by the end of the year, adding it was already providing benefits from an uplift in rail capacity. Rio Tintos Australian iron ore exports guidance for 2018 remained at between 330 million and 340 million tonnes.