Hancock and Rio Tinto open new Pilbara mine
Mining News Pro - Miners Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting have opened the Baby Hope mine, marking the fourth mine to be developed at the Hope Downs operation, since the miners formed their Pilbara joint venture (JV) in mid-2005.

According to Mining News Pro -The JV partners said that the development of the Baby Hope deposit would assist in sustaining the existing capacity at the Hope Downs 1 operation, which along with Hope Downs 4 produced 46.9-million tonnes of iron-ore in 2017.

The JV partners also approved an investment in greater automation, driving productivity and improving safety, with Rio noting that by 2020, a total of 28 existing haul trucks at the Hope Downs 1 mine will be retrofitted with autonomous haulage system technology.

Three production drills at the Hope Downs 4 mine will also be retrofitted with autonomous drilling system technology.

This deployment will deliver safety benefits to both haulage and drilling operations, as well as productivity gains to the business through a higher utilisation rate of the existing fleet, said Rio’s iron-ore CEO, Chris Salisbury.

“This investment will ensure sustainable production levels at the Hope Downs 1 operation and is a clear demonstration of our continuing commitment to the people of Western Australia and the joint venture partnership.

“Together, we have played an instrumental role in developing the Pilbara and remain committed to pioneering new ways to innovate and improve our business for the future.

“As we introduce autonomous technology across the business we continue to work closely with our employees to develop their career pathways. To date, we have successfully redeployed or up-skilled employees impacted by automation and we would expect this trend to continue with the extension of this technology at Hope Downs.”

Baby Hope is located about 4 km south-west of the Hope Downs 1 South deposit and immediately north of the Lang Hancock rail line.

All necessary government and environmental approvals have been secured.

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