Rio Tinto has put $146 million towards initial funding for its Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara. The company anticipates it will be its first “intelligent” mine.
Through a $146-million investment, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,NYSE:RIO,LSE:RIO) has approved initial funding for its Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
According to a company statement, the money will go towards detailed engineering work on major aspects of the project, the development of a rail construction camp and stage one of Koodaideri’s accommodations camp. A final investment decision from Rio is expected by the end of the year.
The major miner plans to develop Koodaideri as its first “intelligent” mine, incorporating a higher level of automation and robotics. Rio refers to the project as a “large scale, low-cost, high-quality” endeavor; it is set to produce replacement tonnes and will form a new production hub for the company in the Pilbara.
Construction is set to start in 2019 if approved by Western Australian government, with first production anticipated for 2021. Six hundred permanent operational roles will be created from the mine, with over 2,000 added during the construction process.
“This is an important step for our Koodaideri project which will be a significant leap forward for the global mining industry and Rio Tinto,” Chris Salisbury, Rio’s iron ore chief executive, said in a statement.
“We’ve been building mines in the Pilbara for over 50 years, and, subject to final approvals, Koodaideri will incorporate all of that knowledge to enable us to build the smartest, safest and most efficient mine we’ve ever constructed,” he continued. “The deployment of leading edge technology will deliver a step-change in both safety and productivity for our business.”
Rio has been consistently building its presence in the Pilbara in recent years, and now operates 16 iron ore mines, four port facilities and a 1,700-kilometer rail network within the region. Its most recent addition, the Silvergrass iron ore mine, opened in August 2017.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.