Mining major Rio Tinto has secured a new commercial freight shipping service to ship its iron ore directly from the Pilbara region in Western Australia to Singapore.

The company said the new service will be a quicker, cheaper, and cleaner alternative to the existing freight delivery route that goes via Perth.

Rio Tinto said that the new service started with the arrival of the general cargo ship MCP Graz from Singapore to deliver essential maintenance supplies at the Port of Dampier for the company’s iron ore operations.

Some of the supplies received by the miner include rail wagon wheels, wagon parts, oil, and lubricants for the iron ore’s operations in the Pilbara.

Rio Tinto expects to receive supplies such as tyres for heavy earth moving equipment, mining consumables, conveyor belts, rail wagon, and locomotive parts in the future.

Rio Tinto iron ore port, rail and core services managing director Richard Cohen said: “This is an important new service that connects the Pilbara to the rest of the world via the major international shipping hub of Singapore. It will provide a number of benefits by delivering cheaper, cleaner and faster freight to the region.

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“It is an important breakthrough not only for our business, but it will also provide a great opportunity for the local Pilbara economy by helping to unlock small business growth and supporting job creation.”

When compared to freight through Fremantle in Perth, the new freight shipping service is expected to cut down the lead-time for goods into the Pilbara region by six to 10 days.

The service is also expected to provide an annual saving of around three million litres of diesel fuel as it reduces more than 3.8 million kilometres of road train travel from Perth.

Rio Tinto intends to utilise the new service to cover more than 50% of its freight requirements to the Pilbara.

In a separate development, Rio Tinto announced an investment of C$105m ($82.69m) for modernising its Port-Alfred Port facilities in Saguenay in Quebec, Canada.

The modernisation project is expected to boost the safety and efficiency of receiving and unloading operations for raw materials used in its aluminium production in the region.