Rio Tinto has opened Western Australia’s newest airport for the Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara ahead of the mine’s production ramp up in 2022.
The airport is expected to handle more than 600 workers a day at peak operating times and can accept a range of different aircraft including Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s, F100s and King Airs.
At present, the Koodaideri airport welcomes four flights a week with additional flights to be added to the schedule next year.
The airport will significantly reduce travel times for workers from an alternative regional airport, helping to manage employee fatigue and minimise employees’ interaction with vehicles and driving.
It will also serve as a safe landing option for Rio Tinto’s long-term partner the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Rio Tinto projects general manager Anthony Radici said the airport opening marked just part of the substantial amount of infrastructure now complete at the Koodaideri site.
“You get a real sense of the immense size and scale of our Koodaideri operation once you fly into this new airport,” Rio Tinto projects general manager Anthony Radici said.
“The construction phase of the project is progressing well with a significant amount of infrastructure now built, millions of cubic metres of material moved, a new access road, a significant amount of the rail formation installed, two new bridges constructed and now a brand new airport.”
Rio Tinto iron ore acting chief executive Ivan Vella said the Koodaideri project, which was valued at $2.6 billion, was the mining giant’s most technologically advanced mine.
It has supported Western Australian businesses with more than $2.3 billion in contracts awarded to date.
This has provided 2000 jobs during the construction phase, with the mining operation set to support around 600 ongoing jobs.
“We are proud to support West Australian businesses as we progress a pipeline of investment opportunities in the Pilbara valued at more than $10 billion over three years to 2022,” Vella said.
The full airport construction and design will be completed by Primero Group, NRW, Worley and GHD alongside subcontractors Colas, Fulton Hogan, TEC Services, Brookdale Contractors, Bennco and Karlka Fencewright.
Once operational, the Koodaideri mine will have have an annual operating capacity of 43 million tonnes of iron ore.