Rio Tinto‘s Hamersley Iron – Yandi unit plans to open the Pocket and Billiard South iron ore pit at its Yandicoogina operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The Yandicoogina Pocket and Billiard South iron ore project (Yandi PBS) will be 7km long and 1km wide, and is expected to produce 70 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore a year.
The company has already filed an environmental application for the Yandi PBS project.
Once the project is operational, it will be bigger than BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine, which is 5.5km long and 2km wide, with a production capacity of 55Mt of iron ore a year.
Rio Tinto is currently carrying out pre-feasibility studies on the new pit and is expecting to start production in 2017, with an initial production capacity of 28Mt a year.
The company further anticipates extending the mine life by around 16 years, as other Yandi operations run out ore deposits.
Rio Tinto recently announced that it has reached its annual production milestone of 260Mt from its Pilbara iron ore system of mines, rail and ports, and plans to increase the target to 360Mt a year in 2017.
In July 2013, the company revealed its plans to build a $3bn mine at Koodaideri in central Western Australia, with a production capacity of 70Mt of iron ore a year. This has been delayed until 2017.
Image: Rio Tinto’s iron ore mine at the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Photo: courtesy of Rio Tinto.