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Rio Tinto Okays $749 Mln Investment In Pilbara Iron Ore Mine

Rio Tinto Plc. (RTPPF.PK,RIO.L,RIO,RTNTF.PK) said that it has approved a $749 million or A$1 billion investment in its existing Greater Tom Price operations to help sustain the production capacity of its iron ore business in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The investment in the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 or WTS2 mine will facilitate mining of existing and new deposits and includes construction of a new crusher as well as a 13-kilometre conveyor, the company said in a statement.

The new conveyor system will help lower greenhouse gas emissions from the mine by 3.5 per cent compared to road haulage, the company said.

The construction will start in the first quarter of 2020 with first ore from the crusher expected in 2021.

Rio Tinto said,"Production of high-quality Brockman ore will support the company's flagship Pilbara Blend, which continues to be the preferred baseload product for China's steel mills."

The company expects that the project will deliver an attractive internal rate of return with a capital intensity of about $25 per tonne of production capacity. The investment is included in Rio Tinto's existing guidance for Pilbara replacement capital for 2020 to 2022.

As part of the investment, the haul truck fleet at the mine will be fitted with Autonomous Haulage System technology to enable autonomous haulage at WTS2 from 2021.
Approximately 50% of the company's haul truck fleet will be capable of operating autonomously by the end of the year with plans being assessed to expand this in the years ahead.

The investment in the WTS2 mine will help sustain the current workforce at Rio Tinto's Greater Tom Price production hub. Additionally, at its peak, the construction workforce is expected to number more than 1,000 people.

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