Commodities, Exploration/Development, Iron ore, News

Simandou, now Rhodes Ridge for Rio Tinto

Rio Rhodes Ridge

Rio Tinto has solidified its commitment to iron ore after entering into an agreement with Wright Prospecting that will unlock one of the world’s largest undeveloped iron ore deposits, Rhodes Ridge.

The Rhodes Ridge project in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia has a total resource of 6.7 billion tonnes at an average grade of 61.6 per cent Fe, representing approximately one-third of Rio Tinto’s existing resource base in the Pilbara.

The agreement with Wright Prospecting looks to modernise their joint venture (JV) covering Rhodes Ridge, providing a pathway for the development of the project’s deposits utilising Rio’s existing rail, port and power infrastructure.

Rio and Wright Prospecting have commenced an ‘Order of Magnitude’ study, which considers the development of an operation at Rhodes Ridge before the end of the decade. The project would have an initial plant capacity of up to 40 million tonnes per annum, subject to approvals.

“Rhodes Ridge contains one of the biggest and best undeveloped iron ore deposits on the planet with proximate access to existing infrastructure,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said.

“With its significant resource base, the Rhodes Ridge project has the potential to underpin production of the Pilbara Blend in the decades ahead.”

Trott said Rio was committed to working closely with the Traditional Owners, the Nyiyaparli and Ngarlawangga People, to ensure sites of significant cultural, environmental, and biodiversity value are protected as part of any future development at Rhodes Ridge.

This will involve a co-management approach in partnership with the Traditional Owners.

It comes after Rio Tinto entered into a JV with China Baowu Steel Group in September regarding the development of the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, which has an annual production capacity of 25 million tonnes of iron ore and is expected to produce first ore in 2025.

In late July, Rio Tinto inked a JV with Winning Consortium (WCS) to advance the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea, which has the potential to produce more than 100 million tonnes of iron ore each year and is considered the largest iron ore project of its kind in the world.

Through Rhodes Ridge and Simandou, not only has Rio Tinto reinforced its commitment to iron ore but it has also affirmed its penchant for scale.

Rio Tinto also released its third quarter production results on Tuesday, with 84.3Mt of iron ore produced and 82.9Mt of iron ore shipped across the three months to September 30. This was a 7 and 4 per cent increase on the prior quarter, respectively.

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