SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rio Tinto next year will seek board approval to develop an “intelligent” iron ore mine at a cost of $2.2 billion, fully incorporating technologies such as robotics and driverless trains and trucks on a single site, the company’s head of iron ore said on Monday.
A feasibility study was underway to demonstrate the economics behind developing the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara region of the state of Western Australia, said Chief Executive, Iron Ore Chris Salisbury.
Rio Tinto extracts more than 300 million tonnes of ore annually in Australia, making it the world’s second-biggest iron ore miner after Brazilian giant Vale.
“We will bring all our technologies into a single place with a mine that is purpose-built to adapt those technologies,” Salisbury told Reuters. “We are calling it our intelligent mine.”
The Koodaideri lode would produce around 40 million tonnes per year by 2021, but could be expanded to yield 70 million tonnes or more at a later date, according to Salisbury.