By Robb M. Stewart

 

MELBOURNE, Australia--Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) said Wednesday it will invest US$749 million in its existing Greater Tom Price operations to help sustain iron-ore production capacity at the site in Australia's remote Pilbara region.

Investment in the the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 mine will include a new crusher and a new conveyer system. The truck fleet at the mine will be fitted with technology to enable autonomous haulage from 2021, which Rio Tinto said is already delivering safety benefits and improving productivity while reducing costs.

Construction will begin in the first quarter, subject to government approval, with the first ore from the crusher expected in 2021.

Rio Tinto said that about half of its haul-truck fleet will be capable of operating autonomously by the end of the year. Yhe company said it is considering plans to expand that in the years ahead.

Rio Tinto's Greater Tom Price iron ore production hub includes the Tom Price, Western Turner Syncline Phase 1 and Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 satellite hubs. Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 is located about 35 kilometers northwest of the Tom Price mine, where its ore is processed and loaded onto trains.

 

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 26, 2019 17:36 ET (22:36 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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