Rio Tinto to Develop Koodaideri as Most Technologically Advanced

Rio Tinto has approved a $2.6 billion investment in the Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia, which will allow it to develop its most technologically advanced mine. Koodaideri will deliver a new production hub for Rio Tinto’s worldclass iron ore business in the Pilbara, incorporating a processing plant and infrastructure, including a 166-kilometer rail line connecting the mine to the existing network. Construction will start next year with first production expected in late 2021. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 million metric tons (mt), underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio Tinto’s flagship iron ore product.

“Koodaideri is a game-changer for Rio Tinto,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive J.S. Jacques said. “It will be the most technologically advanced mine we have ever built and sets a new benchmark for the industry in terms of the adoption of automation and the use of data to enhance safety and productivity.”

Koodaideri Phase 1 will help sustain Rio Tinto’s existing production capacity by replacing depletion elsewhere in the system. The project will increase the higher- value lump component of the Pilbara Blend, subject to market conditions, from the current average of about 35% to around 38%, the company said. It is expected to deliver an internal rate of return of 20% and capital intensity of around $60 per mt of annual capacity, highly competitive for a new mine considering the additional infrastructure of rail spur, airport, camp and road access required. The operation has been designed to utilize an increased level of automation and digitization, helping to deliver a safer and more productive mine, which is expected to be Rio Tinto’s lowest cost contributor to its industry benchmark Pilbara Blend product. Through the use of digital assets, advanced data analytics and automation, the company expects to significantly enhance the operation and maintenance of this new mine.

Throughout the construction period, Rio Tinto expects to employ more than 2,000 people with 600 permanent roles created once the mine is operational.

As featured in Womp 2018 Vol 12 -