THE first shipment of what will shortly represent 15% of traded world seaborne iron ore has been loaded at Dampier in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore has started production and shipment of its new Pilbara Blend (PB), a product comprising a mix of existing Brockman and Marra Mamba iron ores mined from nine of the company’s 11 operating Australian mines. This includes Hope Downs, scheduled to commence production in late-2007.
On 22 June the historic first shipment – 30,000 tonnes of PB Fines – was loaded on to the Shin-Zui at Rio Tinto’s East Intercourse Island terminal.
The ship is scheduled to anchor off Nippon Steel’s plant at Yowata tomorrow, and be unloaded on Wednesday 4 July.
“This is a significant milestone in our drive to optimise the business and add value. It is also a launching pad towards 320 million tonnes annual production, and a key factor in our plans to extend the life of our Pilbara operations,” RTIO Chief Executive Sam Walsh said.
The Pilbara Blend will enable Rio Tinto to continue to deliver high quality, low variability iron ore products to customers and ensure reliable long-term supply.
“The introduction of Pilbara Blend has allowed us to respond to the continued strong demand for iron ore products internationally and improve our product offerings,” Walsh said.
“It will allow customers to achieve logistics and ship-scheduling benefits and result in significant business improvements for Rio Tinto, allowing us to more efficiently respond to market demand with greater quality management capability at our Cape Lambert and Dampier ports and low product variability.”
Walsh said that in addition to simplifying handling procedures, Pilbara Blend would enable Rio Tinto to export fewer iron ore products (from nine to five), closely aligning our products with our resource base.
From July, Rio Tinto Iron Ore will ship five products from the Pilbara — Pilbara Blend lump, Pilbara Blend fines, Yandicoogina fines, Robe Valley lump and Robe Valley fines.