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Rio Tinto and partners approve $1.55B investment to sustain Pilbara iron ore production capacity; Autonomous Haulage Systems

Rio Tinto, together with joint venture partners Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, has approved an investment of $1.55 billion (Rio Tinto’s 53% share $820 million) to sustain production capacity at two projects which form part of the Robe River Joint Venture in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The joint venture partners will invest $967 million (Rio Tinto share $513 million) to develop the Mesa B, C and H deposits at Robe Valley, and $579 million (Rio Tinto share $307 million) in developing Deposits C and D at the existing West Angelas operation.

These investments enable Rio Tinto to sustain production of the Pilbara Blend, the world’s most recognized brand of iron ore, and its Robe Valley lump and fines products, which are highly valued by long-term customers.

Subject to government and environmental approvals, construction of both projects is expected to start next year with an estimated 1,200 jobs created during this phase. First ore is currently anticipated from 2021. These investments will also provide significant opportunities for local businesses as part of Rio Tinto's commitment to local procurement and supporting WA businesses.

Once operational, both projects will feature the latest technology with 34 existing haul trucks to be retrofitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology, delivering safety and productivity gains to the business.

Rio Tinto owns a 53% holding in the Robe River Joint Venture, Mitsui 33% and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation 14%.

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