Rio Tinto has officially opened its Silvergrass iron ore mine in Western Australia. The US$338 million project is the 16th mine at Rio Tinto’s world-class iron ore operations and will produce low-phosphorous ore crucial to maintaining Rio Tinto’s premium Pilbara Blend product.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “Silvergrass is a great example of our value-over-volume approach in action as the mine will deliver the high-quality, low-cost ore used to maintain the world-class premium Pilbara Blend product our customers love so much.
“Silvergrass is a further demonstration of our long-standing commitment to the Pilbara region in Western Australia where we’ve invested more than US$20 billion over the past decade.”
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan led the formalities at a ceremony in the Pilbara to mark the opening, with full commissioning scheduled before the end of the year.
The brownfields expansion project will lower mine operating costs as a result of the construction of a nine-kilometre conveyor system that will replace traditional road haulage routes linking Silvergrass to the existing processing plant at Nammuldi.
More than 500 jobs as well as opportunities for indigenous contracting were created during the construction of the mine. Contracts worth more than $180 million were awarded during the construction phase, including contracts to Western Australian company Decmil and Perth headquartered company RCR Resources.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said “Silvergrass is another Rio Tinto project delivering value for Western Australia with design, construction and commissioning all undertaken by WA companies.
“Dozens of local businesses have benefitted from the purchase of major items including modular buildings, gantry cranes and a waste water treatment plant.”
The Premier also attended celebrations in Perth to mark the 30-year anniversary of Rio Tinto and Sinosteel Corporation’s historic Channar Mining Joint Venture.
Rio Tinto hosted Sinosteel Corporation President Liu Andong and former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who was present at the original signing ceremony in 1987.
Chris Salisbury said “The strong partnership we have forged with Sinosteel over the past 30 years is one of Australia’s most significant trading relationships. It has seen Rio Tinto deliver more than 250 million tonnes of iron ore to China, undoubtedly helping transform the Chinese economy.”