Rio Tinto optimises technologies to meet Chinese demand

Rio Tinto's iron ore operations. Credit: Christian Sprogoe.

Rio Tinto’s iron ore business is committed to developing its world-class automation and fully integrated system as Chinese appetite for the miner’s premium iron ore product, the Pilbara Blend, continues to pick up.

More than 4500 mine-to-market productivity initiatives are being pursued by the business, along with the success of its roll out of 95 autonomous trucks and 11 autonomous drills already in operation for the Koodaideri Project. The company claims it is one of the most technologically advanced mines in the world.

Koodaideri was set as Rio Tinto’s potential major mining development in the Pilbara in May 2017, when it announced a $30.9 million investment to replace its former production.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said, “The steel industry in China has undergone a significant shift in recent times due to supply-side reforms and environmental policy improvements. We believe these reforms are structural and that our business is well positioned to take advantage of these changes due to robust demand for our high quality products.”

The miner’s pioneering autonomous rail project AutoHaul is on schedule to be implemented by the end of 2018, as Rio Tinto is heavily reliant on rail networks for its Australian business, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals across over 1700km of track.

“Removing our bottleneck in rail and increasing flexibility remain a key priority. This work is progressing well and rail and mine capacity should be in line with nameplate port capacity by the end of 2019,” said Salisbury.

“We will continue to optimise the system to provide the flexibility to respond to market conditions.”

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