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Rio Tinto

Monday, February 11th, 2008

The first instalment of a fleet of new generation locomotives has arrived in Dampier to haul iron ore on Rio Tinto’s 1,300 kilometre Pilbara rail network.
The 10 locomotives mark the beginning of a major investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock to keep pace with rapid mine expansions and increases in port capacity.
Rio Tinto will progressively upgrade its locomotive fleet to the new General Electric model, which will produce significantly lower emissions than existing diesel engines.
The first 10 locomotives will immediately boost Rio Tinto’s rail capacity following the ahead-of-schedule start of mining at Hope Downs in November 2007.
Rio Tinto intends to purchase a further 30 GE Evolution® Series locomotives in 2008, of which 12 will replace the Dash 7 and Dash 8 locomotives purchased by Hamersley Iron and Robe River, which are now more than 30 years old. The remainder will cater for expanding production.
The new locomotives use a 12-cylinder, 4,500 horsepower engine that offers improved fuel efficiency and more flexible maintenance requirements.
The upgrade of the locomotive fleet is in tandem with the addition of 1,200 new ore cars in 2008, about 500 to cater for expansion and another 700 to replace the ageing cars that have been operating for up to 40 years. As with the locomotives, fleet maintenance and performance will be significantly improved with the investment.
Managing Director of Robe River and Pilbara Infrastructure, Jack Sato said their arrival added to the business’s increasingly efficient and sustainable mining operations.
“The new locomotives represent a significant investment for our rail operations and a vital cog in our expansion of Pilbara operations,” he said.
“The first 10 will be used to help support the increase in annual port capacity to 220 million tonnes of ore next year. The additional eco-friendly locomotives will significantly advance our build-up to annual port capacity of 320 million tonnes by 2012, and 420 million tonnes after that.”
General Manager Railways Division Richard Cohen said the locomotives will be brought into operation quickly.
“An early-production opportunity has enabled us to take delivery of the next 15 locomotives ahead of schedule. By the end of 2008 our fleet will have expanded from 86 to well over a hundred locomotives, with significant positive flow-on effects arising from a more modern fleet,” he said.
“Along with innovations such as Automatic Train Operation and the Remote Operations Centre, the new locomotives demonstrate how our rail system, which is one of the largest privately owned heavy haulage networks in the world, is at the cutting edge of technological advancement.”
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