Rio ships first coal from Mozambique; beings construction at Perth Airport

Rio Tinto has announced its first shipment of coal from its Benga mine in Mozambique as construction begins on third building at Perth Airport.

In Africa, the miner's first shipment of 34 000 tonnes of coking left Mozambique bound for India.

According to Rio's energy chief Doug Ritche the "shipment marks an important point in the phased development of our tier one coking coal resources in Mozambique.

"It is the first step towards our aim to become a significant supplier of hard coking coal to the seaborne market.  

Rio Tinto's coal mines in Australia's Bowen Basin and Hunter Valley are all thermal coal with a small component of semi-soft coking coal, apart from its Hail Creek mine, which supplies hard coking coal.

Mozambique is the only other country in the world, apart from Australia, where Rio has coal operations, which it acquired after the takeover of the Riversdale last year.

The Benga mine is located in the country's north, in the Moatize Basin, which is "one of the most prospective coking coal regions in the world," according to Rio Tinto.

It is a joint venture between Rio and Tata Steel, which receives the coal for its steel mills.

The shipment from Mozambique comes as Rio announces the construction of its new office space for an additional 220 staff

The extra staff will aid its iron ore production expansion plans in Western Australia.

Rio says the new space, valued at around $15 million and dubbed Echo 2, will complement the existing office space known as Echo 1, and Rio Tinto's Operations Centre, which are both located near Perth's Domestic Airport.

Rio's operating officer for Pilbara services and integrated planning, Dale Harris explained that "just as the Operations Centre quickly developed from a useful concept to a key command centre for our integrated production network, so has our presence in the airport precinct grown rapidly in terms of its footprint and significance".

The announcement of the new building, which will begin construction next month, comes as Perth Airport undergoes a massive $750 million redevelopment.

Building work will be carried out by the Northerly Group and is scheduled for completion late next year.


Image: Rio Tinto

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