Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton continue to report record iron ore production from their mines in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations produced 280.6 million mt (100% basis) for the full year of 2014, 12% higher than in 2013. BHP Billiton produced 124 million mt (100% basis) during its fiscal first half ending December 30, 2014, a 15% increase over the comparable prior-year period.
Rio Tinto is developing a fourth-phase of expansion to 360 million mt/y at its Pilbara operations and reported that the project was about 80% complete as of year-end 2014, with all major rail, marine, and wharf works in place and on track for delivery by the end of the first half of 2015.
Approximately 40 million mt/y of brownfield expansions are under way at Rio Tinto’s Pilbara mines to feed the expanded infrastructure capacity. As a result, the company is forecasting that its production from the Pilbara will increase to 330 million mt in 2015.
BHP Billiton is forecasting production of 245 million mt from its Western Australia operations for its full fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. Expanded production is being driven by the ongoing ramp up of the 35-million-mt/y Jimblebar mine, which delivered its first production in the third quarter of 2013.
BHP Billiton expects to achieve further growth in its Western Australia supply chain capacity to 270 million mt/y without the need for additional fixed plant investment. Beyond that, its Inner Harbour debottlenecking project at Port Hedland and its Jimblebar Phase 2 project have the potential to increase total capacity to 290 million mt/y by the end of its 2017 financial year.