The State Government has approved proposals by Rio Tinto Iron Ore to expand its iron ore operations and build a major new power station in the Pilbara, clearing the way for a $3billion investment.
Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett said the expansion of Rio Tinto’s Nammuldi mine and construction of a 130MW power station at Cape Lambert would help to sustain Western Australia’s strong economic performance.
“This major investment by Rio Tinto will create almost 1,500 construction jobs and secure ongoing employment for more than 700 people,” Mr Barnett said.
“The Nammuldi mine, 60km north-west of Tom Price, includes a major investment in mine infrastructure, which will see iron ore mined below the water table and increase the mine’s production limit from eight to 23 million tonnes a year.”
Production of ore from below the water table is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2014.
“Among other uses, surplus water extracted from the mine will be used for hay production, which will provide additional stock feed for local pastoralists,” the Premier said.
“At Cape Lambert, Rio Tinto will build a state-of-the-art, fuel efficient 130MW power station to feed into Rio Tinto’s integrated power network. This additional power source will help meet the port’s power needs as annual capacity grows from 85 million tonnes to 235 million tonnes by 2015.”
Both investments were announced by Rio Tinto last year subject to Government approvals.
Mr Barnett said approvals for the Nammuldi project were granted under the Iron Ore (Hamersley Range) Agreement Act 1963 and for the Cape Lambert Power station, the Iron Ore (Robe River) Agreement Act 1964. Both State agreements are managed by the Department of State Development. Rio Tinto has received environmental approval for both projects.
Nammuldi project includes construction of two new pits, processing and storage facilities, rail, water and power infrastructure and additional accommodation
At Cape Lambert, Rio Tinto will build a combined cycle (gas turbine and steam turbine) power station, with a workshop/administration complex, water treatment plant and related gas and electricity infrastructure
In 2011-12, WA iron ore production was worth more than $61b and iron ore producers contributed more than $3.8b in royalty payments to State Government
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