The world’s biggest iron ore producer shipped 83.9 million tonnes (Mt) of the steel-making ingredient from its Pilbara operations in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with 82.9 Mt a year earlier.
The $3.1 billion Gudai-Darri mine began production last year and reached its planned annual capacity of 43 million tonnes in less than 12 months later.
Gudai-Darri features an unprecedented deployment of technology, for the world’s second largest miner, including the use of robotics for the ore sampling laboratory, as well as for distribution of parts in the new workshop.
The planned capacity increase will be achieved through upgrades within the plant including chutes and conveyor belts, as well as utilising an existing incremental crushing and screening facility already on site.
Since development commenced in April 2019, more than 14 million work hours have culminated in the delivery of Rio Tinto’s 17th and most technologically advanced iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Rio said.
The larger operation will require additional mining fleet, including haul trucks and diggers, as well as a small expansion of the product stockyards. The capacity increase is subject to environmental, heritage and other relevant approvals.
“What we have learnt during the rapid ramp-up of Gudai-Darri has given us the confidence to find better ways to increase capacity at our newest and most technologically advanced mine, Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director of Pilbara Mines, Matthew Holcz, said in the statement.
“Rather than taking a capital-intensive approach to replicate existing infrastructure, we have now identified a low-capital pathway to creep capacity to 50 million tonnes a year,” Mines said.
The capital intensity of any increase in capacity of Gudai-Darri is expected to be around $10 per tonne.