Rio Tinto‘s Dampier Salt joint venture (JV) has reached an agreement to sell its Lake MacLeod salt and gypsum operation in Western Australia (WA) to Leichhardt Industrials Group.

Valued at A$375m ($251m), the transaction is expected to be finalised by the end of 2024, subject to certain commercial and regulatory conditions.

Lake MacLeod, situated within Baiyungu country in the Gascoyne region, is one of the three solar salt sites operated by Dampier Salt.

The site has a 1.5mtpa salt operation and a 1mtpa gypsum operation, along with a deepwater port at Cape Cuvier.

Additionally, the operations at Lake MacLeod extend to Dampier and Port Hedland.

Rio Tinto has a 68% stake in Dampier Salt, with Marubeni holding 22% and Sojitz 10%.

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By GlobalData

Dampier Salt clarified that there are no intentions to offload any other assets within its portfolio.

The company is recognised as the largest exporter of seaborne salt globally, with an annual production capacity of around 10mt.

Rio Tinto Port, Rail and Core Services managing director Richard Cohen said: “The sale of Lake MacLeod will enable Dampier Salt to focus on enhancing operational efficiencies at its remaining two Pilbara operations while allowing the new owner of Lake MacLeod to maximise its potential.

“Until the completion of the sale, the Dampier Salt leadership team’s focus will be on safety, delivering on plan, and maintaining respect for all people at Lake MacLeod and in the Carnarvon community.

“We are pleased Leichhardt has committed to retaining all Lake MacLeod employees, ensuring continuity of operation and providing job stability to the 130-strong workforce.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Rio Tinto planned to start a $20bn (£15.78bn) mining project in the Republic of Guinea.

The project, which faced a delay of around 27 years, covers iron ore extraction, rail as well as port development in south-eastern Guinea.