Force ma­jeure af­ter fire dis­rupts Rio ore flow

The West Australian - - WEST BUSINESS - Peter Milne

Rio Tinto is un­able to sup­ply some of its iron ore cus­tomers af­ter a fire on Thurs­day dam­aged parts of its Cape Lam­bert ex­port fa­cil­ity.

A Rio Tinto spokesman said it had de­clared force ma­jeure on cus­tomers im­pacted by fire dam­age to a sec­tion of the Robe River screen fa­cil­ity that sep­a­rates Robe Val­ley lump and fine prod ucts. Robe Val­ley pro­duced 31.2 mil­lion tonnes of iron ore in 2017 and Rio Tinto’s 53 per cent share ac­counted for about 6 per cent of the An­glo-Aus­tralian’s iron ore pro­duc­tion for the year.

West Busi­ness un­der­stands the dam­age has stopped the pro­cess­ing of any Robe Val­ley prod­uct at Cape Lam­bert.

Some ship­ments will be pos­si­ble from al­ready screened ore stock­piled at the port north of Kar­ratha. “Rio Tinto is as­sess­ing the full im­pact of the dam­age and will do all it can to try and min­imise dis­rup­tion to our cus­tomers,” the spokesman said.

Other ore ex­ports are un­af­fected.

Robe Val­ley and West An­ge­las are owned by the Robe River joint ven­ture of Rio Tinto, Mit­sui (33 per cent) and Nip­pon Steel & Su­mit­omo Metal Cor­po­ra­tion (14 per cent).

In Oc­to­ber the ven­ture agreed to spend $1.55 bil­lion ($2.16 bil­lion) to sus­tain pro­duc­tion at the two op­er­a­tions.

The work will cre­ate 1200 jobs, with first ore due in 2021. Equip­ment au­to­ma­tion will in­clude the retrofitting of 34 haul trucks.

In April 2018 a spec­tac­u­lar fire at Rio Tinto’s Yandi­coogina op­er­a­tion in the Pil­bara started in a train load-out bin and rapidly moved along a con­veyor.

Pic­ture: Face­book

The plant fire.

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