Rio reaffirms Pilbara push

Rio Tinto Pilbara iron ore head Greg Lilleyman has reaffirmed the miner's commitment to the Pilbara as Fortescue and BHP cut back their operations.

Earlier this week both Fortescue announced that it is drastically reducing its workforce across its iron ore operations, while BHP contractors have been forced to slash their workforce by a third as it reduces its Pilbara operation expansions.

Lilleyman yesterday addressed the AMEC Convention, stating that despite uncertainty in the iron ore space Rio planned Pilbara expansion remains "on time and on budget," according to The Australian.

He went on to state that these cutbacks and delays from other mines will only benefit Rio and aid in its expansion and exports.

Recent changes to Port Hedland's allocations may also benefit the miner.

Last month the Port Hedland Port Authority announced that iron ore miners that do not use their full shipping allocations at Port Hedland may lose their shipping rights.

As other iron ore miners reduce their operations and output Rio is primed to take advantage of their tonnage allocations, particularly as BHP pulls back from its Port Hedland Outer Harbour project.

"We have recently seen a number of high-profile and material projects being delayed or postponed, some of them indefinitely," Lilleyman said just minutes after Fortescue announced its plans to reduce its Pilbara workforce.

"This can only be positive for the medium-term supply-demand balance and therefore prices and returns on Rio's industry-leading Pilbara project."

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