Rio’s Western Turner Syncline mine expansion approved

The WA government has approved the extension of Rio Tinto’s Western Turner Syncline (WTS) mine in the Pilbara.

The project is expected to cost $18 million and will create 40 construction jobs in the region.

It includes the development of deposits to the north and west of the existing site as well as associated works including the construction of haul roads, site access roads, storage areas, and water treatment facilities.

“The approval will ensure Rio Tinto can maintain this level of production by bringing new sources of ore online,” WA state development minister Bill Marmion said.

The site’s current capacity is between 25 and 30 million tonnes of iron ore.

In 2013 Rio Tinto planned to expand to a 360 million tonne a year Pilbara iron ore export rate, hoping to double the size of the WTS site to 32mtpa.

Earlier this year the discovery of rare indigenous artefacts in a rock shelter within the planned expansion were thought to affect development, as it was of “very high” cultural significance.