Rio Tinto is on track to pursue its proposed expansion of its West Angelas iron ore mine in the Pilbara after the state of Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority approved a 4,100-ha expansion of Deposits C, D and G.
West Angelas is part of a joint venture with Mitsui, Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal that produces the premium Pilbara Blend and Robe Valley lump and fines. The expansion will enable production to be maintained at 34 Mtpa, and is expected to be operational by 2021.
Meanwhile, the company is pushing ahead rapidly with its A$38B, 43 Mtpa Koodaideri iron ore project, signing a number of contracts for earthworks, rail infrastructure, and automation and digitisation technologies.
In the latter category, Rio Tinto has selected Caterpillar to supply machinery and technology including 20 autonomous 793F trucks and four autonomous blast drills, in addition to automation technologies and enterprise systems.
Caterpillar said it will complement Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future programme by integrating data analytics technologies to boost production and safety.
In early May, Fortescue Metals Group introduced the first of 38 Cat 789D autonomous haul trucks at its Cloudbreak mine site, part of a project to roll out 175 units by mid-2020, to achieve what the company said will be the first iron ore operation in the world to have a fully autonomous fleet.