Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group, the partners of the Western Range mine in Pilbara, Western Australia (WA), have issued contracts valued at a combined A$1bn ($667.4m) to local businesses for advancing the project’s construction.

Of the businesses, Civmec, CPB Contractors, Primero Group and MACA won prominent contracts.

Civmec secured a contract of more than A$330m to build a new run-of-mine (ROM) pad, primary crushing facility, and overland conveying circuit, as well as modify the coarse ore stockpile and downstream conveying system.

CIMIC Group subsidiary CPB Contractors received a A$250m order to deliver the main infrastructure bulk earthworks.

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By GlobalData

Primero Group won a A$54m contract to design, supply, build and commission the non-process infrastructure facilities at the site.

Maca secured a A$60m contract to build a camp pad and access road, in addition to crushing and screening work.

Local Aboriginal businesses secured the remaining contracts totalling A$39m.

Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group own 54% and 46% stakes respectively in the A$2bn Western Range project, which involves the construction of a primary crusher and an 18km-long conveyor system connecting it with the Paraburdoo processing plant.

Last September, the two companies agreed to form a joint venture to develop the iron ore project.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Simon Trott said: “Rio Tinto spends billions of dollars with local suppliers across Western Australia and the Pilbara every year, helping support thriving communities across the State by providing local jobs for local people.

“The spending of A$1bn with WA businesses at Western Range marks a considerable milestone for both the project and those local businesses we are partnering with.”

With the contractors now selected, the first production from the mine is anticipated in 2025. The annual production capacity of the mine is expected to be 25 million tonnes of iron ore.

The construction phase is expected to create 1,600 jobs.

WA premier Roger Cook said: “It was significant projects like the Western Range, which reinforced WA as an attractive and secure destination for business and investment.

“I want to commend Rio Tinto and Baowu on this latest project milestone and acknowledge their efforts in investing in WA to ensure WA businesses and workers benefit most. It goes to the heart of my government’s WA Jobs Plan, which is about WA jobs first and its projects like the Western Range that will provide a long pipeline of work for Western Australians into the future.”