Rio Tinto Begins Work on First ‘Intelligent Mine’

Rio Tinto has approved $146 million of funding for initial work at its Koodaideri iron ore project 110 miles west of Newman, Western Australia. The company expects to make a final investment decision for the project by the end of the year.

Subject to final investment and government approvals, Koodaideri will be Rio Tinto’s first “intelligent mine,” incorporating the latest in high-tech advances in the industry and utilizing an increased level of automation and robotics. More than 100 innovation opportunities have been identified in the project’s feasibility study.

The initial $146 million of funding will be invested in detailed engineering work on key elements of the project, development of a rail construction camp, and the first stage of the Koodaideri accommodation camp. The large-scale, low-cost, high-quality project will create a new Rio Tinto production hub in the Pilbara and will produce about 40 million mt/y to replace declining production at other Rio Tinto mines elsewhere in the Pilbara.

The company’s Pilbara mines produced 206.76 million mt of iron ore in 2017. If approved, Koodaideri construction is scheduled to begin in 2019, with first production expected in 2021. Project development would create more than 2,000 jobs during construction and 600 permanent operational roles.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury said, “This initial funding is an important step for our Koodaideri project, which will be a significant leap forward for the global mining industry and Rio Tinto.

“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. The deployment of leading-edge technology will deliver a step-change in both safety and productivity for our business.”

As featured in Womp 2018 Vol 09 -