Rio Tinto PLC
19 April 2004
New Eastern Range mine adds to Hamersley's capacity
The opening today of Hamersley Iron's 54 per cent owned Eastern Range mine, near
Paraburdoo in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, will consolidate
Hamersley's position as a leading supplier to China, presently the world's
fastest growing market for iron ore.
The Eastern Range mine, developed at an initial cost of US$64 million, is owned
in partnership with the Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation (46 per cent
interest), one of China's largest steelmakers.
Under the terms of the joint venture agreement, Hamersley will supply Baosteel
with 200 million tonnes of iron ore at an annual rate of ten million tonnes over
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Renwick said the official opening is an
historic event for Hamersley and Baosteel, marking the culmination of years of
hard work, partnership and negotiation.
"Today's mine opening is significant as it reinforces Hamersley's already strong
working relationship with China, built up since Hamersley's first iron ore sales
to China more than 30 years ago," Mr Renwick said.
"This mine development allows mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties.
For Baosteel, Eastern Range secures a stable supply of high quality iron ore
that will help it to meet the needs of the rapid industrial development
presently underway in China.
"Hamersley in turn, is able to maximise the potential of a valuable asset and
achieve returns for its shareholders through guaranteed iron ore sales for the
next 20 years.
"The development of Eastern Range will also ensure that Paraburdoo remains a
vital regional centre for many years to come."
The Eastern Range mine was officially opened by the Australian Federal Minister
for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP. Other guests
included the Western Australian Minister for the Pilbara, the Hon Tom Stephens
MLC, Chinese dignitaries, and representatives from the Shanghai Baosteel Group
Corporation, and Rio Tinto.
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