Rio launches local expansion

Capacity to reach 290 million tonnes a year, further growth to 360 Mt/a planned.

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

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the miner said this marks the start of its expansion program, where overall capacity for its Western Australia iron ore operations will increase to 290 million tonnes a year (see John Abernethy's Tipping out Rio).

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Andrew Harding said the group will continue to seek productivity improvements from its Pilbara system.

"The delivery of 290 ahead of its original schedule and within budget is a testament to our focus on value-driven growth of our low-cost operations," Mr Harding said.

The phase two expansion of the port, rail and power infrastructure to 360 million tonnes a year is underway and options for growth include productivity improvements, expansion of existing mines and the development of new mines, the group said.