Five billion tonnes of iron ore shipped from Australia

17 May 2017

Rio Tinto has reached the historic milestone of five billion tonnes of iron ore exported from its world-leading operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The record-breaking shipment was sent to Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation in Japan on the bulk carrier MV Onozuru Maru last month and was celebrated at a ceremony in Tokyo last night.

Pictured: MV Onozuru Maru being unloaded at Kashima that contained five billionth tonne of iron ore from Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said "Shipping five billion tonnes is a remarkable accomplishment and it is fitting that it was delivered to Japan, our first customer and valued long-term partner.

"The five billion tonne milestone would not have been achieved without the pioneers who developed the Pilbara more than 50 years ago and the hard work and dedication of the 11,000 Rio Tinto Iron Ore employees running the business today.

"When we began shipping Pilbara iron ore more than 50 years ago we had no idea how important this commodity would become to the Australian economy. We are immensely proud of the role we have played in supporting Australia’s economic growth.

"Rio Tinto is one of the largest contributors to the Australian economy and our Pilbara business plays a key role in driving this through taxes, royalties, employee wages and local procurement."

Pictured: (L-R) Australian Ambassador Richard Court, Rio Tinto chief executive Iron ore Chris Salisbury and NSSMC EVP Toshiharu Sakae.

Rio Tinto’s first shipment of iron ore was 52,000 tonnes from Mount Tom Price. On 22 August 1966, it set sail on the MV Houn Maru from Dampier bound for Yawata Iron and Steel (now part of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation).

The development of that mine and the necessary infrastructure to transport the ore had been underwritten by the Japanese steel mills in the 1960s through long-term off-take contracts that were revolutionary at the time.

Rio Tinto now operates the world’s largest integrated portfolio of iron ore assets in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. This includes an integrated network of 15 iron ore mines, four port facilities, a 1,700 kilometre rail network and related infrastructure supported by an Operations Centre in Perth.