Rio forks out $800m on Pilbara expansions

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Rio Tinto has committed to spend over $800 million on its Pilbara operations expanding power and fuel supplies.

The company said in a statement yesterday the expansions were part of a drive “to substantially increase iron ore production capacity.”

Over $500 million will be spent upgrading the company’s power and gas network, while around $300 million will be allocated to fuel infrastructure facilities.

As part of the expansions two 40MW open-cycle gas turbines will be built in a new power station near the West Angelas mine.

Another 40MW turbine will be built at the existing Yurralyi Maya power station near Dampier.

Two new inland fuel distribution hubs will also be created, removing the requirement for trains to transport fuel from Port Hedland.

The company’s Parker Point port terminal at Dampier will also have its capacity expanded by 56ML.

Rio said the upgrades were needed to support its 2013 target annual production target of 283 million tonnes.

Rio Tinto chief executive iron ore and Australia Sam Walsh said in a statement the expansions signalled the company was on track to delivering its production targets.

“This investment marks yet another significant step towards the expansion of iron ore production by 50 per cent in the five years to 2015, a timeline we recently brought forward by six months.”

The latest expansions follow Rio’s announcement last week that it would spend more than $300 million shoring up its Pilbara water supplies.

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