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Rio Tinto studying US$2.2B 'intelligent' iron ore mine at Koodaideri

The head of Rio Tinto's iron ore division, Chris Salisbury, said the company will seek board approval in 2018 to develop a US$2.2 billion "intelligent" iron ore mine at its preproduction-stage Koodaideri project, part of its Hamersley Consolidated operation in Western Australia, Reuters reported Dec. 4.

Salisbury said a feasibility study is underway at Koodaideri, fully incorporating technologies including robotics and driverless trains and trucks in a single mining operation. The executive added that the project fits with the company's strategy to produce ore with specific iron content required by customers.

Koodaideri is expected to produce 40 million tonnes of ore per year by 2021, with potential to expand to 70 Mt/y at a later date.

Alf Barrios, the head of Rio Tinto's aluminum division, said demand growth for the metal will benefit from an ongoing shift by Chinese packaging companies from glass to aluminum cans for beer and soft drinks.

Bloomberg News reported the same day that the mining giant estimates a 4% increase in aluminum demand over the next five years, without incorporating an anticipated increase related to the growing electric vehicles sector.

Rio Tinto recently appointed Simon Thompson as its next chairman, replacing Jan du Plessis as of early March 2018.