PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Major Rio Tinto has awarded some A$500-million worth of contracts to Western Australian and Pilbara Aboriginal businesses to support the latest development of its Greater Tom Price operations.
The miner noted that construction of the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 (WTS2) expansion started in early 2020 and to date more than 85% of spending on the project has been awarded to Western Australian and Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.
At peak construction, development will support a workforce of over 1 000 people with the majority employed by Western Australia businesses, including Guma Warnii, Monadelphous, Mondium, Kerman Contracting, Whittens, North West Mining & Civil, MACA Civil, Linkforce and Aerison.
Rio Tinto approved the $749-million investment in the mine in November 2019 to sustain production capacity of its iron-ore business in the Pilbara. The investment allows for the mining of existing and new deposits at WTS2 and includes construction of a new crusher and a 13-km conveyor which will help lower greenhouse gas emissions from the mine by 3.5% compared to road haulage.
First production from the new deposits at WTS2 is expected in the second half of 2021.
“The Pilbara region is the engine room of the nation, and thanks to Western Australia’s strong management of the pandemic, we can expect more job-creating projects to come on line in the coming years,” Premier and Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade Mark McGowan said.
“Rio Tinto has been embedded in the Tom Price community for decades and has made a significant contribution to the town. I congratulate Rio Tinto for its commitment to this important project.
“This project will ensure Tom Price has a bright future and my government is committed to ensuring mining communities have first class services to support local families.”
Rio Tinto Iron Ore MD of Pilbara Mines, Matthew Holcz, said the company’s commitment to Tom Price and regional communities remained as strong as ever.
“Tom Price is the birthplace of Western Australia’s iron-ore industry and more than 50 years later this $749-million investment in the WTS2 expansion will underpin the viability of this proud town for decades to come.
“We are proud the vast majority of contracts we have awarded to date have been to Western Australian businesses, including Pilbara Aboriginal businesses. This investment demonstrates our commitment to spending with local businesses, buying locally and supporting our communities through the creation of jobs.”
Meanwhile, the miner has also announced that it would contribute A$20-million to the Western Australian government to help fund a new hospital at Tom Price in the state’s Pilbara region.
The partnership will help facilitate construction of a modern hospital expected to include an emergency department, in-patient ward and consulting rooms for visiting services.
Rio Tinto’s contribution to replace the current 54-year-old Tom Price District Hospital forms part of the company’s ongoing commitment to the Pilbara region, and is in addition to the company’s Pilbara Covid-19 support package, which has included A$1-million for both the City of Karratha and the Shire of Ashburton, to assist local economic stimulus initiatives and community support.
Planning for the new facility is already underway with an emphasis on providing telehealth technology as a way to connect city and country healthcare.