Dampier Port upgrade on time, on budget

RIO Tinto’s US$1.4 billion Dampier Port upgrade project in Western Australia has been completed on time and on budget.

Capacity at the iron ore port has increased 90 per cent, from 74 million tonnes four years ago to a current capacity of 140 million tonnes per year.

Sam Walsh, Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s chief executive said, “The expansion of Dampier Port is another testimony to the ability of our teams to bring large projects to fruition on time and on budget.

“We are investing heavily to help Rio Tinto take advantage of the strong demand growth in the global market, particularly in China. With our studies of the expansion to 320Mtpa capacity in the Pilbara, and the Simandou project in Guinea, West Africa, this aggressive ramping up of production to meet that growing demand is set to continue.”

The project achieved a significant milestone with over five million work man-hours free of lost time injuries, and during peak construction Dampier Operations also managed to achieve record tonnages of shipments.

The upgrade was conducted in two phases.

Phase A took annual port capacity from 74 million tonnes to 116 million tonnes and Phase B to the current capacity of 140 million tonnes, comprising Parker Point 94 million tonnes and East Intercourse Island 46 million tonnes.

The installation of two new ship loaders at the Parker Point wharf allows two vessels to be loaded simultaneously and a 600-metre extension of the wharf allows up to four vessels to be berthed at the one time, reducing ship waiting time.

First iron ore from the new Hope Downs joint venture mine was carried by train to Dampier Port in December 2007, ready for shipment as part of Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s new product, Pilbara Blend.

Construction of the US$1 billion Hope Downs project was completed in December 2007, three months ahead of schedule.

Earlier, in August 2007 a further US$350 million was committed to expand the mine’s annual capacity from 22 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes.

In December 2007, Rio Tinto announced a US$71 million feasibility study to assess the Hope Downs 4 deposit as an extension of the existing Hope Downs Joint Venture.

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