Koodaideri iron ore mine is an open-cut project being developed in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Rio Tinto fully owns and is developing the project, which is set to be one of the biggest iron ore mines in the region.

Mount Bruce Mining and Hamersley Iron, both wholly-owned subsidiaries of Rio Tinto, proposed the development of the Koodaideri mine.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project was approved in March 2015, while a pre-feasibility study was completed in March 2016.

Rio Tinto approved a £2bn ($2.6bn) investment for the Koodaideri iron ore project in November 2018.

Construction on the project was started in the second half of 2019, with the first production scheduled to begin by the end of 2021. The project is estimated to create 2,000 construction jobs and 600 operational jobs.

The mine is estimated to have an initial throughput rate of 43Mtpa, which will be eventually increased to 70Mtpa in the second phase. It is estimated to have a mine life of more than 30 years.

Koodaideri geology and mineralization

Koodaideri iron ore mine is located approximately 110km from Newman Pilbara region. The deposit lies within the Hamersley Basin, within an existing mining lease named AM70/00252 (ML252SA). It is classified as a bedded iron ore deposit hosted in the Dales Gorge Member of the Archean Brockman Formation.

Mineralization at Koodaideri appears as a Brockman iron deposit, which is high in phosphorus along with a weathering overprint that varies from 2km to 4km in depth below the topographical surface.

Koodaideri iron ore mine reserves

The Koodaideri iron ore mine was estimated to contain 598Mt of proven and probable ore reserves grading 61.9% iron, as of December 2017.

Mining and ore processing

The conventional open-cut method of mining using truck and shovel will be applied at Koodaideri mine. The project area consists of three mine pits, K75W, K58W and K38W respectively, of which the K58W pit is proposed to be mined first, followed by K75W and K38W.

It will use autonomous trucks, trains, and drills as part of Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program. It will also use integrated advanced mine automation and simulation systems. Rio Tinto claims Koodaideri to be its most technologically advanced mine.

Ore will be dry-crushed in-pit before conveying to the 40Mtpa central screen processing facility.

The processed ore will be conveyed to the port of Dampier and Cape Lambert for exporting to customers.

Infrastructure facilities for the Koodaideri iron ore project

Access to the project site during construction is through the Great Northern Highway and then along the Roy Hill Road. A second access road is proposed to be constructed linking the existing Yandicoogina access road to the mine site.

Power supply will be made from the existing Rio Tinto 220kV Juna Downs-Yandicoogina transmission line.

Rio Tinto also plans to build a 34MW photovoltaic (PV) solar farm at the mine site which is expected to supply approximately 65% of Koodaideri’s total electricity demand.

Initial water supply for early works and construction will be sourced from the bore fields located to the east of Koodaideri, along with surrounding bores.

Workers will be accommodated at the new 780-room village camp.

A 166km-long rail line will be constructed to connect the mine with the existing Rio Tinto’s heavy freight rail network.

PV solar farm at the Koodaideri mine

Rio Tinto approved a £75m ($98m) investment for building a 34MW PV solar farm for the Koodaideri iron ore mine in February 2020.

It will be Rio Tinto's first company-owned solar farm and it will comprise approximately 100,000 PV panels encompassing a total area of 260 acres.

Construction of the solar facility is expected to be started in 2020 and completed in 2021.

The solar farm will also be complemented with a 12MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system.

Contractors involved

WorleyParsons was contracted for engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for the Koodaideri iron ore project in April 2019.

Rio Tinto entered into an agreement with  Caterpillar to supply  20 autonomous 793F trucks, four autonomous blast drills as well as other equipment including loaders, dozers, graders, water carts and diggers for the Koodaideri mine in May 2019.

NRW Holdings was contracted for the Koodaideri mine pre-strip project in August 2019.

Carey Mining was awarded the contract to carry out miscellaneous earthworks for the project.

Pindan was awarded an A$45m ($32.5m) contract, in December 2018, to design and develop the 780-room construction village in Pilbara for the Koodaideri iron ore mine.