Rio Tinto has secured approval to expand two iron ore mines in Western Australia, a move which will add an extra 11 million tonnes of iron ore to its annual output.
The WA state government has approved Rio’s $AU880 million plans to boost production at two of its Pilbara iron ore operations.
It is expected the green light will generate more than 760 new jobs for the mining region.
WA Premier Colin Barnett said the $680 million expansion at Rio’s West Angelas joint venture project will boost output from 29 million tonnes per annum up to 35 million tonnes.
“This expansion is expected to extend the mine’s life by approximately 13 years,” Barnett said.
The West Angelas expansion is expected to create 290 jobs during construction and will also see the ongoing operations workforce at the mine jump by 200 workers to a total of 1,300.
It has also been estimated Rio will spend an additional $AU200 million lifting production from 25mtpa to 30mtpa at its Western Turner Syncline operation in the Pilbara.
“This new development will create around 240 new jobs during construction, and an additional 30 workers will be required for the operations workforce,” Barnett said.
The expansion plans are part of Rio’s aim to lift its annual iron ore output to 360 million tonnes per annum.
Earlier this week the iron ore price was hosed, dropping 10% on the back of Chinese data.
You can read more on the iron ore price here.
In 2013 iron ore was WA’s most valuable export with sales of $68 billion.
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