Rio Tinto has officially opened its new Silvergrass iron ore mine, which will add up to 10 million tonnes of annual volume to its Pilbara mine, rail and port operation in Western Australia.
Silvergrass is a satellite deposit located adjacent to Rio Tinto’s Nammulti mine, roughly 200 kilometres from the Port of Dampier, where the miner exports its iron ore.
The US$338 million project represents the first major iron ore mine to open in WA since Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine was opened in 2015. It will produce low-phosphorus ore Rio says is crucial to maintaining its premium Pilbara Blend product.
“Silvergrass is a great example of our value-over-volume approach in action as the mine will deliver the high-quality, low-cost ore used to maintain the world-class premium Pilbara Blend product our customers love so much,” Rio chief executive J-S Jacques said.
“Silvergrass is a further demonstration of our long-standing commitment to the Pilbara region in Western Australia where we’ve invested more than US$20 billion over the past decade.”
WA Premier Mark McGowan welcomed the project opening, noting the important role it will play in Rio Tinto’s plans to reach a production rate of 330 million tonnes this year.
“Western Australia’s leading iron ore sector produced 38% of the world’s iron ore last year, and plays a vital ongoing role in the state’s economy through jobs and royalties,” the premier said.
“The Silvergrass mine is the latest in a series of new mine developments by a number of major companies, which show that confidence in the state’s sector remains high.”