The processing plant at <a href=Rio Tinto‘s Brockman 4 site in Western Australia.” height=”225″ longdesc=”” src=”” style=”padding: 10px” width=”300″ />

Rio Tinto has secured approval from the Western Australian government to expand its Nammuldi mine.

The mine is located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and currently produces 8 million metric tonnes of iron ore.

The firm will invest A$3bn in the expansion, which is expected to contribute to a significant enhancement of iron ore operations in the region.

The project will also help Rio Tinto increase its annual production capacity to 23 million tonnes.

The company expects to mine iron ore below the water table and any excess water extracted from the mine will be used for hay production.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said Rio had agreed to invest A$3bn into the expansion. "This major investment by Rio Tinto will create almost 1,500 construction jobs and secure ongoing employment for more than 700 people," Barnett said.

As per the government estimates, iron ore production from Western Australia generated A$61bn in revenue to the state’s economy in the 2011-2012 financial year. Revenue included over A$3.8bn in royalty payments to the state government.

Meanwhile, Rio is planning to construct a 130MW power station at Cape Lambert to feed the company’s integrated power network, while extra power would serve the electricity needs at the Cape Lambert port, from where ore is shipped.

Image: Rio Tinto continues to expand its operations in Pilbara. Photo: Rio Tinto

NRI Energy Technology