Australian mining company Rio Tinto has announced plans to invest $395m in a seawater desalination plant in the Pilbara, Western Australia. The water supply will be used to support the company’s operations in the coastal parts of the region. 

The proposed Dampier Seawater Desalination plant will sit within the company’s iron ore operation at Parker Point, with construction set to begin in 2024. Initial processing capacity will be four gigalitres annually upon the plant opening in 2026, with plans to double this capacity. 

The desalination plant will use reverse osmosis to filter salt and other impurities from seawater, using existing infrastructure at Parker Point. The project will construct a new supply pipeline to connect the plant to the existing water network. 

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The company has stated its commitment to respecting indigenous landowners, commenting, “Rio Tinto has been engaging with all associated Traditional Owners and Custodians in relation to the project and would like to thank the Ngarluma people, on whose traditional lands the plant will be constructed, and Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, who represent the five Traditional Owner groups in the region.” 

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said: “We know that water is a scarce resource, particularly in the Pilbara. We are pleased that this desalination plant will help secure future supply for Rio Tinto-supplied communities in the West Pilbara as well as our coastal operations.”