Rio Tinto aims to expand the production capacity of its Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia from 43 to 50 million metric tons annually. The expansion, costing around $70 million, will involve incremental upgrades in the plant and additional mining fleet. The project awaits environmental and other relevant approvals.
In a decisive move signaling their ambition for growth, Rio Tinto has announced plans to increase the annual production capacity at their Gudai-Darri iron ore mine to 50 million metric tons. The project, located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, began operations just last year and has already reached its initial production goal of 43 million metric tons.
The expansion will be facilitated through a series of plant upgrades, specifically targeting conveyor belts and chutes. Additionally, the site will utilize an existing incremental crushing and screening facility, reducing the need for constructing new infrastructure. These enhancements aim to achieve greater efficiency and raise the overall productivity of the plant.
To support the elevated production rate, Rio Tinto will add more mining equipment, including haul trucks and diggers, to its fleet. Moreover, a minor expansion of the product stockyards is planned. Before moving forward, the expansion is subject to various approvals, most notably environmental and heritage clearances.
Matthew Holcz, Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director of Pilbara Mines, emphasized the company's strategic approach in a statement, "Rather than taking a capital-intensive approach to replicate existing infrastructure, we have now identified a low-capital pathway to creep capacity to 50 million metric tons a year."
Notably, the cost of adding the additional 7 million metric tons of capacity is estimated at a capital intensity of around $10 per metric ton, making it a highly economical operation. This financially prudent move adds another feather to Rio Tinto's cap, as they continue to set industry benchmarks for operational efficiency.
The planned expansion of Rio Tinto's Gudai-Darri iron ore mine marks a significant step in the company's trajectory for growth. Utilizing existing infrastructure and incremental upgrades, the mining giant aims to increase production with minimal capital expenditure. Once the relevant approvals are in place, this expansion could set new industry standards for how to efficiently scale up mining operations.