Rio Tinto unveils $3.1-bn Pilbara iron ore expansion

Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest iron ore miner after Vale of Brazil plans to invest a further $3.1 billion ($A3.21 billion) to expand its iron ore infrastructure in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Pilbara IronThe announcement comes a few days after Rio Tinto and arch rival BHP Billiton abandonded their $116-billion iron ore production joint venture in Pilbara, which would have given the mining giants control about a third of the world's seaborne iron ore trade. (See: Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton abandon $116-billion iron ore JV)

The Anglo Australian miner yesterday said that it would invest an additional $3.1 billion to expand its port and rail operations, taking its overall approved investments since July in the Pilbara to $6 billion.

Of the $6 billion investment announced so far, Rio Tinto's share would be $3.9 billion, while its joint venture partners would pay the rest.

The $3.1 billion investment would support port and rail infrastructure works around Cape Lambert to lift annual capacity to 283 million tones by 2013 including a two-berth wharf, new stockyard, car dumper, two stackers and reclaimers, rail marshalling yards and six new heavy-haul train units, said the London-based miner in a statement.

Rio Tinto said that it has also approved a final feasibility study for raising production capacity  at Pilbara to 333 Mt/a.