Rio Tinto has delivered the first ore from its Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia, marking the company’s first greenfield mine in more than a decade.
Rio Tinto said the Gudai-Darri would contribute to its flagship Pilbara Blend product’s future production.
According to the company’s statement, the first AutoHaul trains loaded with ore from Gudai-Darri’s process plant have traveled the new 166-kilometer rail connection connecting its existing rail and port infrastructure. The mine’s production will continue to ramp up for the rest of this year, with full capacity anticipated in 2023.
Nearly 14 million work hours have been put in since the ground was broken in April 2019, resulting in the transfer of over 20 million cubic meters of dirt, the batching and placement of 35,000 cubic meters of concrete, and the installation of 10,000 tonnes of steel.
During the construction and design phases of Gudai-Darri, about 3,000 jobs were supported. The mine is also expected to support around 600 ongoing permanent roles.
Gudai-Darri will support future Pilbara Blend production with a life expectancy of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes. A feasibility study is also underway to assist in the expansion of this new center.
Rio Tinto expects the mine’s commissioning and ramp-up to increase iron ore production volumes and improve the product mix from the Pilbara In the second half of this year.
The full-year shipment projection for 2022 remains at 320 to 335 million tonnes (on a 100 percent basis), subject to risks related to new mine ramp-up, weather, and cultural heritage management.
The mine is expected to cost A$4.3 billion to build. Due to continued COVID-19 constraints, including labor access and supply chain quality difficulties, the company’s replacement projects in the Pilbara, including Gudai-Darri, were subject to possible capital increases of roughly 15% in February. The company’s capital spending forecast for 2022 remains steady at roughly $8 billion.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said “The commissioning of Gudai-Darri represents the successful delivery of our first greenfield mine in over a decade, helping to support increased output of Pilbara Blend , our flagship product. It sets a new standard for Rio Tinto mine developments through its deployment of technology and innovation to enhance productivity and improve safety.
“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the Traditional Owners, the Banjima People, on whose country Gudai-Darri is situated. We have worked closely with the Banjima People to progress this project and we look forward to continuing to actively partner with them into the future.”
Gudai-Darri will be powered by a 34-megawatt solar farm that will supply nearly a third of the mine’s average electricity demand after construction is completed in August, contributing to Rio Tinto’s carbon emission reduction targets.
The solar facility, when combined with a new lithium-ion battery energy storage system in Tom Price, is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 90,000 tonnes, or the equivalent of taking about 28,000 cars off the road.