Mining giant Rio Tinto Group and China Baowu Steel Group Co Ltd will set up a joint venture to develop the Western Range iron ore mine project in the Pilbara, Western Australia, with a total investment of $2 billion, said Rio Tinto on Wednesday.
Construction of the Western Range iron ore project, with an annual production capacity of 25 million tons of iron ore, is expected to begin in early 2023 with first production anticipated in 2025, it said.
Rio Tinto will account for 54 percent of the joint venture while China Baowu will account for 46 percent.
The two sides have also agreed to enter into an iron ore sales agreement at market prices covering a total of up to 126.5 million tons of iron ore over approximately 13 years.
"This is a very significant milestone for both Rio Tinto and Baowu, our largest customer globally," said Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott.
"We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Baowu for more than four decades, shipping more than 200 million tons of iron ore under our original joint venture, and we are looking forward to extending our partnership at Western Range".
The development of Western Range represents the commencement of the next significant phase of investment in our iron ore business, helping underpin future production of the Pilbara Blend, the market benchmark, he said.