Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has announced the first ore delivery from the $3.1bn Gudai-Darri iron ore in Western Australia.
Said to be the firm’s first greenfield mine in more than a decade in the Pilbara, the Gudai-Darri mine is expected to have an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes (Mt) with plans to reach full production capacity during 2023.
The mine comprises a processing plant and infrastructure, including a 166km rail line designed to connect to Rio Tinto’s existing network.
Rio Tinto said that the mine contributes to the future production of its Pilbara Blend product.
With more than 40 years of expected operational life, the Gudai-Darri mine will be powered by a 34MW solar farm to support the firm’s carbon emissions reduction targets.
The solar project, which is due to be completed in August 2022, is expected to meet nearly a third of the average electricity demand at the mine.
Subject to risks related to the ramp-up of new mines, weather and cultural heritage management, the mine’s 2022 full-year shipments guidance remain at 320Mt-335Mt.
The mining company said that a feasibility study is underway to support an expansion of the new hub.
The mine, which supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction and design phase, will employ around 600 people.
Rio Tinto chief technical officer Mark Davies said: “In building this new hub we have brought together the best of our innovations, including autonomous trucks, trains and drills, as well as the world’s first autonomous water trucks, to make Gudai-Darri our most technologically advanced iron ore mine.
“This suite of autonomous assets complements the planned deployment of other leading-edge technologies including a robotic ore sampling laboratory, field mobility devices for all personnel and a digital asset of the fixed plant, which, together with data analytics, will make Gudai Darri safer and more productive.”