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Rio Tinto will seek to increase the production capacity at its Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The major miner will aim to increase the mine’s production capacity to 50 million tonnes per annum at a cost of around $130 million through incremental productivity gains.

Gudai-Darri’s capacity increase is expected to be achieved through upgrades within the plant such as chutes and conveyor belts, and by utilising an incremental crushing and screening facility already on site.

Rio Tinto said the larger operation will require additional mining fleet such as haul trucks and diggers, and a small expansion of the product stockyards.

“What we have learnt during the rapid ramp-up of Gudai-Darri has given us the confidence to find better ways to increase capacity at our newest and most technologically advanced mine,” Rio Tinto iron ore managing director of Pilbara mines Matthew Holcz said.

“Rather than taking a capital-intensive approach to replicate existing infrastructure, we have now identified a low-capital pathway to creep capacity to 50 million tonnes a year.”

The production capacity increase is subject to environmental, heritage and other relevant approvals. The capital intensity of any capacity increase at Gudai-Darri is expected to be around $10 per tonne.

Through its opening last year, the Gudai-Darri mine brought together a suite of innovations such as autonomous trucks, drills and trains, and the world’s first autonomous water carts.