Rio Tinto agrees new tug boat contract for Pilbara iron ore ports

11 July 2018

Rio Tinto has agreed a new long-term contract with Western Australian-based company Westug to provide towage services at the company’s iron ore ports of Cape Lambert and Dampier in the State’s Pilbara region. 

The new contract, valued at more than $156 million (A$200 million) over five years, covers the four terminals at Rio Tinto’s two ports in the Pilbara which last year shipped a combined 330.1 million tonnes of iron ore to customers. 

Under the contract, Westug will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of Rio Tinto’s tug fleet of 11 vessels as well as four smaller craft. The contract will help sustain more than 130 jobs. 

Perth-headquartered Westug has also agreed to an enhanced local procurement strategy under the new contract. This will focus on commitments to boost the relativity of Pilbara specific spending and to maximise their footprint in the local community.  

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Rail, Port & Core Services Ivan Vella said "Towage operations and vessel maintenance are a critical element in our supply chain. Rio Tinto has a long history of working with Westug at our ports and this new contract is an endorsement of both the value and opportunity available in the next phase of our relationship.  

"Importantly, Rio Tinto’s values around local procurement align with those of Westug’s and we look forward to seeing the benefits of this approach flow through to local businesses and workers in the Pilbara."  

Notes for editors

Each year, Rio Tinto’s marine operations unit is responsible for the safe and efficient movement of more than 2,000 vessels carrying iron ore, salt and fuel at the two ports. This corresponds to 4,000 inbound and outbound vessel movements through the year. 

Rio Tinto’s vast iron ore operations in Western Australia include 1,700 kilometres of rail, 16 mines and four port terminals. 

Westug have provided towage services at both Cape Lambert and Dampier for many years. 

Rio Tinto is committed to supporting local businesses, and this is being driven by the company’s Local Procurement Programme. 

Our procurement practices, and those of our contractors, play a significant role in the creation of sustainable and resilient communities, including jobs for locals.