Rio Tinto is seeking to increase production capacity at its newest iron ore mine, Gudai-Darri, to 50 million tonnes a year at a cost of around $70 million (A$130 million) through incremental productivity gains.
The $3.1 billion Gudai-Darri mine, in the Pilbara, Western Australia, began production last year and reached its planned annual capacity of 43 million tonnes in less than 12 months from first ore.
The planned capacity increase will be achieved through upgrades within the plant including chutes and conveyor belts, as well as utilising an existing incremental crushing and screening facility already on site.
The larger operation will require additional mining fleet, including haul trucks and diggers, as well as a small expansion of the product stockyards. The capacity increase is subject to environmental, heritage and other relevant approvals.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director of Pilbara Mines, Matthew Holcz, said “What we have learnt during the rapid ramp-up of Gudai-Darri has given us the confidence to find better ways to increase capacity at our newest and most technologically advanced mine.
“Rather than taking a capital-intensive approach to replicate existing infrastructure, we have now identified a low-capital pathway to creep capacity to 50 million tonnes a year.”
The capital intensity of any increase in capacity of Gudai-Darri is expected to be around $10 per tonne.