Rio Tinto has officially opened Gudai-Darri, its most technologically advanced mine in the Pilbara.
Gudai-Darri is Rio Tinto’s 17th iron ore mine in the Pilbara, with a capacity of 43 million tonnes per annum.
The mine, which has been delivered after 14 million labor hours since development began in April 2019, has some of the most cutting-edge equipment, such as a robotic ore sample laboratory that enables instant sight of ore grades coming out of the mine.
There are autonomous trucks, trains, and drills, which are typical across many of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara mines, as well as a digital duplicate of the processing plant, which allows teams to swiftly test different scenarios before adopting them in the real world.
Gudai-Darri has a mine life of more than 40 years and is expected to reach full capacity in 2023. Development of the mine supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction and design phase with the operation requiring around 600 permanent roles.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said Gudai-Darri represents a step-change in the deployment of automation and technology within the company’s iron ore business.
“Gudai-Darri is our first greenfield mine in the Pilbara in more than a decade and a multi-billion-dollar investment in the State of Western Australia that will operate for decades to come,” he concluded.
Rio Tinto is constructing a 34-megawatt solar farm with 83,000 solar panels that will provide one-third of Gudai-Darri’s power requirements. The project is slated to be completed in August 2022.
The iron ore miner also aims to build a one-gigawatt solar and wind power plant in the Pilbara, which could be seven times larger than Western Australia’s largest solar farm.