|After reaching its targeted interim run rate of 290 million mt/y of iron ore from its Pilbara operations two months ahead of schedule, Rio Tinto predicts that it will encounter some ‘variability’ in run rate in the near future as it incorporates its AutoHaul autonomous rail haulage system.|
Rio Tinto officials have announced that their Pilbara iron ore system of mines, rails and ports — comprising Australia’s top integrated mining project — has achieved a record run of 290 million metric tons per year (mt/y), two months ahead of schedule.
Early expansion, according to Rio Tinto representatives, enhanced their operations in one of the world’s most iron ore-prolific regions, with ongoing system ramp-up contributing to record Q1 2014 production; Q3 infrastructure completion was delivered four months ahead of schedule and $400 million under budget.
Andrew Harding, Rio Tinto’s iron ore chief executive, hailed a “significant milestone” for its business. “It builds on an impressive record of delivery, through performance and the quality of our people,” he said.
Further expansion toward 360 million mt/y, he added, is pending Q2 2014 and from a present base run rate of 290 million mt/y, “we have a rapid, low-cost pathway to increase capacity by 60 million mt/y between now and 2017;” including integration of the world’s first automated heavy-haul rail system, AutoHaul.
First ore was loaded at the Cape Lambert Port B facility in Q3 2013, according to Rio Tinto officials. The 360-million-mt/y infrastructure will be completed by Q3 2015; mine production capacity will reach 60 million mt/y by 2017. Most low-cost growth, added the second-biggest miner, will be delivered by 2016 with mine production of more than 330 million mt/y in 2015.