Rio Tinto approves US$293 million (C$300m) for continued Canadian iron ore expansion and studies

Rio Tinto continues to advance its three-phased strategy that would see the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s annual concentrate production expand by 50 per cent to 26 million tonnes by 2011.

Rio Tinto today approved the $US193 million capital expenditure (Rio Tinto share $US102 million) magnetite plant expansion to an annual capacity of 22.8 million tonnes.

Rio Tinto has also approved US$75 million (Rio Tinto share US$44 million) for completion of a feasibility study on the third-phase expansion, to extend annual capacity to 26 million tonnes and purchase of long-lead items.

Overall, taking into account earlier preparatory work, a total of US$768 million has now been committed to the expansions (Rio Tinto share US$451 million).

“The iron ore market remains tight and our substantial reinvestment in our operations in Canada and worldwide demonstrates the confidence we have in that market,” Rio Tinto chief executive iron ore and IOC chairman Sam Walsh said.

“The significant improvement in IOC operational efficiency is now being reflected in a more aggressive expansion timetable. We are targeting an annual production run-rate of 26 million tonnes of concentrate in late 2011,” he said.

“A number of new market opportunities are emerging for both concentrate and pellet products and it is important that IOC extracts maximum efficiency from its existing infrastructure and plant.”

The phased expansion has significant and sustainable local benefits, particularly in employment opportunities.

The IOC expansion follows on from the July announcement of a US$2.15 billion expansion of the Corumbá iron ore mine in Brazil. Rio Tinto has now spent or committed US$11 billion since the current expansion phase commenced in 2003, towards its goal to reach an annual iron ore capacity of more than 600 million tonnes.

1. Rio Tinto’s attributable share of Iron Ore Company of Canada’s production is 58.7 per cent
2. Rio Tinto’s attributable share of global iron ore production beyond 600 Mtpa is approximately 85 per cent.

About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

Forward-Looking Statements
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