The West Australian Government approved Rio Tinto’s A$1.8 billion expansion plan for the Yandicoogina iron ore mine (Australia’s largest iron ore mine) in the Pilbara. The approval will enable Rio Tinto to extend the life of the existing Junction South East deposit, now operating on a fully autonomous basis, and to develop the adjacent Junction South West deposit, which will see mining continue at Yandicoogina up to the next decade.

Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto chief executive, iron ore and Australia, said Yandicoogina has proved to be one of the Pilbara’s most successful developments since being developed in the mid-1990s. “Not only is it our largest mine, and the largest mine in the Pilbara, but it is also the source of a unique product that forms a key component of our marketing strategy,” he said.

“Yandicoogina is also the site for Rio Tinto’s first Mine Of The Future, with the entire Junction South East pit being operated on a fully autonomous basis with 10 driverless trucks operating around the clock,” Walsh said. “As we progress our construction of Australia’s largest integrated mining project, our expansion to an annual capacity of 353 million metric tons, it is critical that we continue to replenish our existing production base in a timely and efficient manner, as this latest project largely does.”