Reclaimer and Milky Way

Growth

We continue to progress important growth opportunities and projects, to bring to market materials critical to the transition to a low-carbon economy: copper, lithium and iron ore, among others.

We have a strong portfolio of assets across six continents. Many of our products are essential for the energy transition, and our focus is on growing our business while decarbonising, providing products to our customers that support the transition to a low-carbon economy. And looking to the future, the demand will only grow – driven by ongoing urbanisation and the energy transition. The demand we will face through to 2035 will grow around 3.7% per year, with around half stemming from the energy transition.

Our strategy also focuses on growing in materials required to support the energy transition, such as copper, lithium, aluminium and high-quality iron ore. This will ensure our portfolio remains relevant and is well-placed to meet the commodity needs of future generations.”

- Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto Chief Executive

In June 2022, we announced the production of first ore at Gudai-Darri, our first greenfield mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia, in more than a decade. With an expected life of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 million tonnes, Gudai-Darri will underpin future production of our Pilbara Blend™ product.

A 34 megawatt, 105 hectare solar photovoltaic plant at our Gudai-Darri mine will deliver approximately one third of Gudai-Darri's average electricity demand.

In September 2022, we agreed to form a joint venture with China Baowu Steel Group to develop the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia (Rio Tinto 54%, Baowu 46%). Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 with first production anticipated in 2025. Western Range’s annual production capacity of 25 million tonnes of iron ore will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend™ from our existing Paraburdoo mining hub. The joint venture is subject to various conditions, including approvals from Rio Tinto shareholders, the Australian Government, Chinese Government regulatory agencies and the Western Australian Government.

In October 2022, Rio Tinto (50%) and Wright Prospecting Pty Ltd (50%) agreed to modernise the joint venture covering the Rhodes Ridge project in the Eastern Pilbara, providing a pathway for development using Rio Tinto’s rail, port and power infrastructure. Other key projects to be delivered in the Pilbara over the next five years include Hope Downs 1 Sustaining (Hope Downs 2 and Bedded Hilltop), West Angelas Sustaining, Greater Nammuldi Sustaining and Brockman 4 Sustaining (Brockman Syncline 1). We continue to work closely with local communities, Traditional Owners and government to progress approvals for the new mining projects.

The Simandou iron ore project in Guinea contains one of the world’s largest known undeveloped high-grade low-impurity iron ore deposits, which is in increasing demand as steelmakers look to reduce carbon emissions. In December 2022, negotiations progressed between our Simfer joint venture, Baowu, Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) and the Government of Guinea to co-develop project infrastructure. Simandou will diversify our strong iron ore portfolio, complementing our high-grade Iron Ore Company of Canada products and supporting the long-term attractiveness of our Pilbara Blend™ offering.

In March 2023 we marked the start of production from the Oyu Tolgoi (OT) underground mine in Mongolia, which will make OT one of the most important producers of copper in the world. At full production, OT’s underground and open cut mines will produce enough copper annually for more than 6 million electric vehicles.

At Rio Tinto Kennecott, our copper operation in Utah, United States, feasibility studies are being progressed to extend open pit mining at Kennecott beyond 2032. This follows a $1.5 billion investment in the second phase of the South Wall Pushback project, approved in 2019, to allow open cut mining to continue between 2026 and 2032. A $108 million investment in underground characterisation studies is ongoing, with $55 million in development capital approved to commence underground mining, which will further extend strip waste rock mining and support additional infrastructure development. Kennecott’s first production ore from the underground is expected in H1 2023, with full production in the second half of the year.

The Resolution Copper project – a proposed underground copper mine in the Copper Triangle in Arizona, United States – has the potential to supply up to 25% of US copper demand. The US Forest Service is working to progress the Final Environmental Impact Statement and land exchange. We are continuing to advance discussions with several federally recognised Native American Tribes who are part of the formal consultation process.

Winu – a copper and gold project – is part of our high-quality pipeline of exploration projects globally. The Winu deposit is shallow and suitable for open pit mining, located in a great jurisdiction, in flat topography, and 100% owned. We announced the maiden Resource for Winu in July 2020 and believe it has the potential to become a large-scale operation over time.

ELYSIS, our joint venture with Alcoa, supported by Apple, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec, is developing a breakthrough inert anode technology that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases from the aluminium smelting process. We’ve begun constructing the first commercial-scale prototype cells at our Alma smelter, which will become operational in 2023.

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Amid chaos and uncertainty, Canada has an opportunity for industrial leadership

Jakob Stausholm, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto

The Rincon Lithium Project is a large, undeveloped lithium-brine project located in the Salta province of Argentina, an emerging hub for greenfield projects. The project is a long-life, scaleable resource capable of producing battery-grade lithium carbonate. It has the potential to have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the industry that can help deliver on our decarbonisation commitment. We completed the project’s acquisition in March 2022, and have invested in the development of a small starter battery-grade lithium carbonate plant with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes per year. Our investment also includes early works to support a full-scale operation, including power line and associated substations, construction camp and airstrip. In July 2022, we signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the Ford Motor Company for a significant off-take agreement of Rincon lithium, to support Ford’s production of electric vehicles. The Jadar project in Serbia is one of the largest greenfield lithium projects in the world. The Board committed funding in July 2021, subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits and licences. We are focused on consultation with all stakeholders to explore all options following the Government of Serbia's cancellation of the Spatial Plan in January 2022.

Concentrator, Oyu Tolgoi

Oyu Tolgoi

One of the world’s largest known copper and gold deposits

Global demand for copper is set to grow, driven by urbanisation, industrialisation and increasing requirements for renewable energy: copper plays a key role in electrification and power production.

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For example, a wind turbine capable of generating a megawatt of power – enough to supply several hundred homes – needs more than three tonnes of copper.

Oyu Tolgoi, in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, is one of the largest known copper and gold deposits in the world and it is expected to be the world’s fourth largest copper mine by 2030.

At peak production, Oyu Tolgoi is expected to operate in the first quartile of the copper cash cost curve1. Oyu Tolgoi is expected to produce around 500,000 tonnes of copper per year on average from 2028 to 2036 from the open pit and underground, and an average of around 350,000 tonnes per year for a further five years2, compared to 130,000 tonnes in 2022 (open pit)3.

The OT underground development will consolidate Rio Tinto’s position as a leading global supplier of copper at a time when demand is increasing, driven by its role in enabling decarbonisation and electrification in the race to net zero. We will also explore additional opportunities to decarbonise the OT operations, including sourcing renewable power.”

Jakob Stausholm, Rio Tinto Chief Executive

1 Wood Mackenzie copper equivalent cash cost curve (Q4 2021).

2 The 500ktpa target (stated as recovered metal) for the Oyu Tolgoi underground and open pit mines is underpinned 17 per cent by Proved Ore Reserves and 83 per cent by Probable Ore Reserves for the years 2028-2036. The 350kpa production target for the following 5 years is underpinned 18 per cent by Proved Ore Reserves and 82 per cent by Probable Ore Reserves. These production targets have been scheduled from current mine designs by Competent Persons in accordance with the requirements of the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Minerals Resources and Ore Reserves, 2012 Edition (the JORC code).

3 Rio Tinto Annual Results 2022, published 22 February 2023.

Excel in development

Our portfolio is well-placed to meet the commodity needs of future generations, but we also need to build a pipeline of organic and inorganic growth opportunities and establish a strong track record of capital-efficient delivery.

We are broadening our approach to developing our pipeline of growth options and are testing innovative ways of bringing projects online faster. Through it all, we will maintain our absolute commitment to capital discipline and only pursue opportunities that create value.

We are also focused on further building our capabilities in business development and project execution.

We are also focused on further building our capabilities in business development and project execution. We continued to successfully roll out the Safe Production System (SPS) and in 2022 met our target of 30 deployments at 16 sites. Through SPS, we are drawing on data more efficiently to understand asset health, maintenance scheduling and bottleneck solutions. We have started to see improved production efficiency, safety and engagement at the sites where we have deployed it.