Rio Tinto has officially opened its $US338 million ($427.2 million) Silvergrass iron ore mine in Western Australia.
The project is the 16th mine at Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations and will produce low-phosphorous ore crucial to maintaining Rio Tinto’s premium Pilbara Blend product.
“Silvergrass is a great example of our value-over-volume approach in action as the mine will deliver the high-quality, low-cost ore used to maintain the world-class premium Pilbara Blend product our customers love so much,” Rio Tinto CEO J-S Jacques said
“Silvergrass is a further demonstration of our long-standing commitment to the Pilbara region in Western Australia where we’ve invested more than $US20 billion ($25.28 billion) over the past decade.”
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan led a ceremony in the Pilbara on Wednesday to mark the opening, with full commissioning scheduled before the end of the year.
The brownfields expansion project will lower mine operating costs as a result of the construction of a nine-kilometre conveyor system that will replace traditional road haulage routes linking Silvergrass to the existing processing plant at Nammuldi.
More than 500 jobs as well as opportunities for indigenous contracting were created during the construction of the mine.
Contracts worth more than $180 million were awarded during the construction phase, including contracts to Western Australian company Decmil and Perth headquartered company RCR Resources.
“Silvergrass is another Rio Tinto project delivering value for Western Australia with design, construction and commissioning all undertaken by WA companies,” said Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Chris Salisbury.
“Dozens of local businesses have benefitted from the purchase of major items including modular buildings, gantry cranes and a waste water treatment plant.”