Rio Tinto fans Pilbara job hopes

24 May, 2017

Rio Tinto has added to the wave of optimism in the Pilbara by approving a feasibility study for its US$2.2 billion Koodaideri iron ore project.

The $30.9 million study will examine Koodaideri as Rio Tinto’s next potential major iron ore mine development, one intended to replace existing production, the company says.

“The Koodaideri development will require an expected 1600 construction jobs and a further 600 operational staff if approved,” says Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury

“We are examining the Koodaideri project as an option to help us maintain our low-cost competitive position and assist in maintaining the Pilbara Blend product quality.”

The study will focus on obtaining necessary consent and permits, increasing Rio Tinto’s understanding of the orebody, and provide the data necessary to “validate” the project, the company says.

A final decision on Koodaideri will be made following the completion of the study and subsequent review by Rio Tinto’s investment committee and board, it says.

Last November Rio Tinto released a prefeasibility study outlining a 40 million tonnes per year concept for Koodaideri, including a 170km rail link and the potential to begin construction in 2019.

The Pilbara was one of the hardest hit regions following the end of the mining boom, but recent developments suggest there may be better times ahead.

“The Koodaideri development will require an expected 1600 construction jobs and a further 600 operational staff if approved."

Last month BHP reached out to contractors capable of building its South Flank iron ore project after indicating that major works for the $2-billion-plus venture could begin early next year.

South Flank is still in a study phase but BHP released an indicative timetable that would see a final investment decision in Q1 CY2018, triggering the start of a three-year build program expected to create more than 2000 construction jobs.

And last week Woodside Petroleum confirmed it was optimistic about its long-delayed Browse LNG development, revealing a US$25 billion plan to develop the gas by piping it 860km to the existing Karratha gas plant. 

Depending on the alignment of various joint venture companies, Woodside is targeting a final investment decision as early as 2019.

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