Pilbara - Gudai-Darri site, 2020

Missing capsule in Western Australia

1 February 2023

Rio Tinto expresses its gratitude to Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services for coordinating the successful search effort to locate a missing capsule lost while in transit from the company’s Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Rio Tinto would also like to thank the specialist search crews from the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, as well as all other support agencies, for their crucial role in the search and recovery efforts.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott said, “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of everyone involved in finding the missing capsule.

Read the full release

31 January 2023

We are taking this incident very seriously. We recognise this is clearly very concerning and are sorry for the alarm it has caused in the Western Australian community.

We would also like to thank Emergency Services and the WA Government for all their efforts in the search for the missing capsule to date.

Our priority, as always, is the safety of our communities, our employees, and contractors, and we encourage everyone in the community to follow the advice issued by the Chief Health Officer and DFES.

Rio Tinto engaged a third-party contractor, with appropriate expertise and certification, to safely package the device in preparation for transport off-site ahead of receipt at their facility in Perth. Prior to the device leaving the site, a Geiger counter was used to confirm the presence of the capsule inside the package.

As well as fully supporting the relevant authorities, we have launched our own investigation to understand how the capsule was lost in transit. As part of this investigation we are working closely with the contractor to better understand what went wrong in this instance.

We have offered our full and ongoing support to authorities in the search for the missing device. We have completed radiological surveys of all areas on site where the device had been, and surveyed roads within the mine site as well as the access road leading away from the Gudai-Darri mine site.