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Leighton Contractors has entered into a five year framework agreement with UK-based Rio Tinto to deliver a stream of structural, mechanical and piping projects as part of its A$18bn ($19bn) expansion programme in the Pilbara region, Western Australia.

Leighton Holdings subsidiary said the framework agreements will deliver the earthworks contracts for the eastern stream of Rio Tinto’s expansion plans, which includes the Hope Downs 4 Mine, Marandoo Mine, Yandicoogina Mine and Koodaideri Mine.

Structural, mechanical and piping work will also be carried out for the western stream of Rio Tinto’s expansion plan, which includes Brockman 4 Mine Phase 2, Western Turner Syncline Mine, Brockman 4 Mine Phase 3 and Nammuldi Mine.

Rio Tinto intends to expand its iron ore operations in the Pilbara region in two stages, from an existing capacity of 225 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 283Mtpa in 2013 and to 353Mtpa by 2015, marking an increase of more than 50%.

Leighton Contractors, in joint venture with Ngarda, is currently carrying out the earthworks on Rio Tinto’s Hope Downs 4 and Marandoo Mine.

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Pilbara iron ore operations include a network of 14 mines, three shipping terminals and the privately owned heavy freight railway in Australia spanning 1,400km.

Image: Rio Tinto aims to expand its iron ore operations in the Pilbara to 353 Mtpa by 2015. Photo: Courtesy of Rio Tinto.