Rio Tinto this morning announced $226.8 million worth of funding to expand its iron ore operations in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
According to a statement from the miner, the money will fund several dredging contracts for the Cape Lambert Port expansion project.
The dredging is required for the construction of a new 1.8 km four-berth jetty and wharf, which would increase the ports annual capacity from 80 million tonnes to 180 million tonnes.
Rio is planning to increase the capacity of its Pilbara iron ore operations to 330 million tonnes per annum by the first-half of 2016.
The first stage of the expansion, improving the efficiencies of the port systems at Dampier, is currently being implemented.
When this stage is completed in the first quarter of 2011, the capacity will have increased to 225 million tonnes per annum.
According to Rio Tinto Australia chief executive Sam Walsh, the dredging works will ensure future expansion decisions can be implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Rio Tinto has a proven track record of managing large-scale iron ore expansion projects and this decision should be seen in that light,” he said.
“It is important at this stage that we advance this process in an orderly manner and this decision does that.”
The dredging works are dependent upon a number of government and other approvals, particularly the approval of the Robe River joint venture partners with regard to the Cape Lambert port.