Iron ore mining in WA

Rio Tinto has secured approval from the Western Australian Government for its proposed expansion of the Yandicoogina mine located in East Pilbara.

The mining major is set to invest approximately $1.8bn to upgrade the mine in an effort to reach an output of 353 million tonnes of ore in Western Australia (WA) by 2015.

Expansion at the Yandi mine aims to enhance production from 53 million tonnes a year to 60 million tonnes annually in addition to extending the mine’s operating life beyond 2020.

Premier Colin Barnett said in a statement that the investment establishes the mining industry’s resilience in the region.

"The iron ore industry will remain a major driver of investment and employment in WA into the future," Barnett said.

"As well as creating hundreds of construction jobs, this proposal will add eight years to the life of the Yandicoogina project, providing continued employment for about 1,000 people. It will also add to the state’s royalty income."

The Yandicoogina mine began production in 1998 and has become a flagship operation for the introduction of advanced mining technology by Rio Tinto.

News of the approval follows the closure of the company’s coal-producing Blair Athol mine after 30 years in operation.

Declining prices led Rio Tinto to shut down the mine instead of extending its life.

Image: Rio Tinto will expand its Pilbara operations to 353 million tonnes by 2015. Photo: Courtesy of Rio Tinto.