Rio completes first major port expansion at Cape Lambert

Rio Tinto has completed a major expansion at Cape Lambert which will help the miner’s Pilbara operations become the largest in Australia.
Cape Lambert’s wharf B (CLB), was officially opened by West Australian Premier Colin Barnett yesterday, and is part of Rio’s wider expansion plans in the Pilbara where it plans to increase annual capacity to 353 million tonnes per annum.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Andrew Harding said the expansion signalled a capital expenditure saving of US$400 million “achieved mainly from our engineering and contracting strategies across this phase of the programme”.

"By running Australia's lowest-cost iron ore operations we will ensure the benefits continue to flow through to the bottom line,” Harding said.

The CLB system delivered first shipment in late August with ramp-up on schedule to reach a full run-rate by the end of the first half of 2014.

Rio said phase two expansion of the port, rail and power infrastructure is underway with a number of options for mine capacity growth are under
evaluation including incremental tonnes from low-cost productivity improvements, expansion of existing mines and the potential development of new mines.

The contract for the wharf expansion was awarded to John Holland in February.

John Holland wins Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert wharf contract

 John Holland has won a $186 million contract to extend Rio Tinto iron ore's Cape Lambert B wharf.

According to the company the project will extend the wharf already being built by John Holland, and while provide an extra two berths at Rio's Cape Lambert Port B.

The award is part of Rio Tinto's wider expansion in the Pilbara, where it plans to increase its annual capacity to 353 million tonnes per annum.

It was part of the miner's wider $4.2 billion investment to grow its iron projects globally.

According to former Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese the company was "directing investment to projects that will generate the most attractive returns for shareholders and are resilient under any probable macroeconomic scenario.

"Our Pilbara iron ore business has one of the highest margins in the industry," Albanese explained.

He went on to say that it "is in line with our long-held strategy of investing in and operating long-life, low-cost, tier one assets, and consistent with our view of the economic outlook".

John Holland will work closely with Leighton Asia in the project.

Glenn Palin, John Holland's MD, added that the project will feature innovative environmental concepts.

"In early 2012, the Cape Lambert project trialled a "sponge jet" blasting and recovery system in place of a more conventional garnet abrasive blasting unit. This absorbs particles and prevents them from becoming airborne over water at the site," he explained.

"This vastly reduces dust levels and significantly cuts any risk of contamination."

The company's project team is currently delivering the first stage of the project.

It is employing 22 indigenous workers on site, which represents around 6% of the total workforce, although it is planning to increase this number.

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