Expanding further on their Hope Downs joint venture, Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting unveiled the operation’s newest mine, Baby Hope, in Western Australia on Friday.
Partners Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) and Hancock Prospecting have opened a new mine, Baby Hope, at the Hope Downs iron ore operation in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Baby Hope joins the operation’s three other major open-pit mines, Hope 1 North, Hope 1 South and Hope 4, which produce high-grade lump and fines products.
Located 4 kilometers southwest of the Hope 1 South deposit, Baby Hope also comes with an approved investment by the joint venture partners towards greater automation.
Rio and Hancock intend for 28 existing haul trucks at Hope 1 to be retrofitted with Autonomous Haulage System technology by 2020; meanwhile, three production drills will also be retrofitted with Autonomous Drilling System technology.
The upgrades are intended to help deliver safety benefits and productivity gains through a higher utilization rate.
“This investment will ensure sustainable production levels at the Hope Downs 1 operation and is a clear demonstration of our continuing commitment to the people of Western Australia and the joint venture partnership,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury said during the site’s opening.
“Together, we have played an instrumental role in developing the Pilbara and remain committed to pioneering new ways to innovate and improve our business for the future,” he added.
Rio and Hancock are equal partners in the Hope Downs joint venture, with Rio having bought into Hope Downs in 2005 after Hancock completed a bankable feasibility study and exploration for the operation. Last year, Hope 1 North, Hope 1 South and Hope 4 produced 46.9 million tonnes of iron ore.
Development of the Baby Hope deposit is set to help sustain existing capacity at the Hope 1 operation and support ongoing jobs at Hope Downs as a whole. Hancock Prospecting Executive Chairman Gina Rinehart thanked everyone involved in the process during the mine’s opening on Friday.
“Thank you very much again to Rio for investing in Baby Hope, and other Hope Downs mines too, as well as all of your earlier investments in the Pilbara and Australia. A truly giant contribution, offering employment and more indirect employment and opportunities to many Australians over decades.”
Rinehart continued, “[a]s Hancock and some at Rio know, I have been pushing to see the development of Baby Hope, and I am excited that now the Baby Hope mine will be a welcome contributor to the future success of Hope Downs.”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.