Rio Tinto has committed to spend a further $US833 million ($813 million) in the Pilbara, as part of its drive "to substantially increase iron ore production capacity".
The global mining collossus said today it would invest the money on its Pilbara power and gas network and fuel infrastructure facilities.
"Rio Tinto's integrated Pilbara power and gas network will be upgraded with a $US520 million investment and a further $US313 million will be allocated to fuel infrastructure facilities," the company said in a statement.
The $US520 million power and gas network upgrade will deliver an additional 120 megawatts of power to sustain Rio’s current 230 million tonne per annum production capacity and support the expansion to 283Mt/a.
Two 40MW open cycle gas turbines will be installed as part of a new power station near the West Angelas mine site and another 40MW turbine will be built at the existing Yurralyi Maya power station near Dampier.
“The investment also provides for associated power infrastructure, such as substations, gas pipelines and transformers,” the company said.
The $US313 million investment on fuel infrastructure will take Rio’s total storagte capacity to 100 million litres, with 56 million litres additional capacity at the Parker Point port terminal in Dampier.
Rio said it would also create two new inland distribution hubs, removing the requirement for two trains to transport fuel from Port Hedland.
"The fuel infrastructure project will also help support the next phase of potential expansion, to 333 Mt/a in 2015,” Rio’s statement said.
Chief Executive Iron Ore and Australia Sam Walsh said the investment "marks yet another significant step towards the expansion of iron ore production by 50 per cent in the five years to 2015, a timeline we recently brought forward by six months".
"These projects provide certainty in meeting our power and fuel supply requirements, both now and into the future.”
The expenditure follows last week's announcement that Rio would spend $US310 million shoring up its Pilbara water supplies.