Reclaimer and Milky Way


We look at growth through a variety of different lenses – starting with exploration for new sources of essential materials.  

We have 63 programmes in seven commodities across 16 countries; our spend on exploration over the years has been consistent at around $250 million, which we believe remains a differentiator for Rio Tinto.

We take an advanced approach to data and technology to improve our targeting, allowing us to uncover opportunities in areas that have been well explored by others. Our copper-gold discovery at Winu in Western Australia, is one example of this capability; another is FalCon, a diamond project in Saskatchewan, Canada. 

We also focus on investing in high-quality organic growth. 

  • Weipa machinery
    Amrun: Delivering growth ahead of schedule and under budget
    Our Amrun bauxite project in Queensland, Australia was completed in 2018 ahead of schedule and below budget. The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 million tonnes, at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally.

In 2018, for example, we shipped our first tonnes of bauxite from our new Amrun mine in Queensland, Australia – six weeks ahead of schedule. Also in 2018, we announced the development of the $2.6 billion Koodaideri iron ore project – our most intelligent mine – located in the Pilbara, Western Australia. In 2019, we announced a $1.5 billion investment to continue production at our Kennecott copper mine, in the United States, extending operations there to 2032.

We are building a world-class underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi, in Mongolia. We have made significant progress on a number of key elements in the construction during 2019. However, the ground conditions are more challenging than expected and we are reviewing our mine plan and considering a number of mine design options. Delays are not unusual for such a large and complex project and we are focused on finding the right pathway to deliver this high value project.  

In the US, the Resolution Copper Project reached a significant milestone in 2019 with the release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which will allow us to continue progressing one of the world’s most significant copper deposits towards development.  

Finally, we are looking at options to grow our position in minerals relating to battery technology. A good example of this is our lithium project – Jadar – in Serbia. 

Employee at Jadar


one of the largest lithium deposits in the world


In 2004, we discovered a new mineral containing both borates and lithium in Serbia’s Jadar Valley, which we called jadarite. Lithium is a key raw material for battery technologies used in renewable energy storage and electric vehicles.




After more than a decade of research and development, we have started the pre-feasibility study of our potential jadarite mine and processing facility. The study will help us to understand the scale and quality of the mineral and develop new technology to extract and process it.

Alongside our environmental and social impact assessment, the study is allowing us to explore different ways to potentially develop the project – from logistics to economics, and environment to impact on local communities.

Looking at longer term growth, we maintain our industry-leading investment in exploration. We have over 70 programmes underway with activity in seven commodities across 16 countries. Our planned spend on exploration in 2019 is around $250 million.

  • Modern exploration team
    Meet our Modern Explorers
    Our team of 400+ explorers is out searching the world for the next wave of commodities essential for human progress.
  • Winu project
    Promising Copper Discovery in Australia
    Our Winu Project is one opportunity in our high-quality pipeline of exploration projects globally. It is at a very early stage, but our initial results are promising. Winu is a copper and gold system, shallow and suitable for open pit mining, located in a great jurisdiction and in flat topography, and 100% owned.