Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group have celebrated a significant milestone reached by its landmark Bao-HI Ranges iron ore joint venture (JV) with more than 200 million tonnes of iron ore now shipped from the Pilbara to mills in China.
The 200 millionth tonne of iron ore sold under the partnership was mined at Eastern Range, located approximately 10 kilometres south of Paraburdoo.
It departed Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert port on board the Baosteel Li Da last month before arriving at Majishan, China, on 19 September.
The shipment followed a broader milestone for Rio Tinto with the company shipping its three billionth tonne of iron ore to China last month, 47 years after its first delivery from the Pilbara.
Outside of its commercial partnership, the Bao-HI Ranges JV has delivered other benefits.
In 2004, Rio Tinto and China Baowu started a training programme whereby a number of China Baowu employees are selected to undertake a training course in Perth each year.
The course includes a two-week secondment to a Rio Tinto site in the Pilbara as well as a 3-month business English and cultural immersion programme. Since it was introduced, more than 120 China Baowu employees have successfully completed the programme.
Last year, Rio Tinto, China Baowu and the prestigious Tsinghua University signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to develop and implement new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore acting chief executive, Ivan Vella, said: “This is a very significant milestone for the joint venture partnership between Rio Tinto and China Baowu in the Pilbara which extends back almost 50 years. Over that time the strength of our partnership has contributed to the successful growth of both our organisations.”
China Baowu vice president, Guo Bin, added: “Nearly 50 years of collaboration, especially the strong partnership of the last two decades, has been essential to the development of both companies. We look forward to more collaborative opportunities in the future leveraging our respective areas of expertise.”
Rio Tinto and China Baowu (the country’s largest steelmaker) own 54 per cent and 46 per cent of the Bao-HI Ranges JV respectively.
The joint venture was created in 2002, with production from Eastern Range commencing in 2004.
A feasibility study into the Western Range project is ongoing and Rio Tinto and China Baowu remain in discussions regarding a potential joint venture with respect to the project.