Rio Tinto’s Australia-based iron ore mine Yandicoogina has achieved a milestone by producing 50 million tonnes per annum for the first time on 29 December 2009.

The mine, which was launched in 1998 in a rich channel iron deposit in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, produced 10.7 million tonnes in its initial full year of operations.

The mine has been ramping up to achieve a 52 million tonnes annual capacity since its extension through Junction South East in 2007 and 2008.

In 2008 the mine generated 45.6 million tonnes of sellable product.

Rio Iron Ore CE Sam Walsh said the mine achieved the milestone even though in April the mine was producing at a rate of 40 million tonnes for the year.

“To overcome the twin obstacles presented by the GFC impact and the flooding has been a major achievement,” Walsh said.

Yandicoogina’s pisolite ore is mainly used by steel mills as it can enhance the smelting of other ores.