Rio Tinto signs $200m Pilbara tug boat contract

Westug's vessel, 'Barrura'. Image: Westug

Rio Tinto has signed a five-year contract with Perth company Westug for iron ore towage services at the Port of Cape Lambert and Port of Dampier in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Westug has a long-standing relationship with Rio and has received awards from the miner in the past.

In 2010, Westug won two awards for Rio’s supplier recognition program and another in 2012 for ‘Best supplier partnership’.

The $200 million contract will employ more than 130 people. Westug will maintain and operate Rio’s tug fleet of 11 vessels and four smaller craft.

Rio Tinto iron ore managing director for rail, port and coal services, Ivan Vella, said towage and vessel maintenance were critical elements in the company’s supply chain.

“Rio Tinto has a long history of working with Westug at our ports and this new contract is an endorsement of both the value and opportunity available in the next phase of our relationship,” he said.

“Importantly, Rio Tinto’s values around local procurement align with those of Westug’s and we look forward to seeing the benefits of this approach flow through to local businesses and workers in the Pilbara.

Rio Tinto’s two ports shipped a combined 330.1 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore last year.