Rio Tinto ships first iron ore from expanded operations

Rio Tinto has loaded the first shipment of iron ore from its expanded port, rail and mine operations in Pilbara, Western Australia.

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The “290 Project” expansion programme will see the miner’s iron ore capacity in the region increase to 290 million tpy, Rio Tinto said on Monday September 2.

The first shipment was a capesize vessel named Tai Shan, which carried 165,000 tonnes of Pilbara Blend fines and was bound for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation’s Kimitsu works in Tokyo. The ship embarked from the new Cape Lambert B wharf, according to the statement.

Rio Tinto’s ceo Sam Walsh previously said the first tonnages from the 290 project would be delivered by the end of September.

The project has also been delivered within budget, iron ore ceo Andrew Harding noted in the statement.

“Our focus will now be to ensure the ramp-up to full run-rate is achieved safely and efficiently,” Harding said.

“We will continue to seek further productivity improvements from our fully-integrated Pilbara system […] in order to maximise the return on our investment,” he added.

The second stage of the expansion to 360 million tpy is underway, Rio Tinto said.

The company produced 66 million tonnes of iron ore from its global operations during the June quarter, up 7% year-on-year.

Rio Tinto’s iron ore production guidance for 2013 is 265 million tonnes