Rio Tinto engages Pilbara manufacturers for iron ore railcars

iron ore railcars

Rio Tinto has committed to using local suppliers to build iron ore railcars for its Pilbara mining operations, with the initial purchase of 50 iron ore railcars. 

The company also plans to purchase ten ore cars per year for five years. 

“The independent pre-feasibility study has proven what we already knew – Western Australia has untapped potential to further support our major resource industries through local manufacturing,” WA premier Mark McGowan said. 

The announcement reflects the Western Australian government’s commitment to boost local manufacturing and secure an ongoing pipeline of Western Australian jobs, through establishing the Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group. 

“Local manufacturing of iron ore railcars is not only good for the state, but helps lower risks associated with global supply chains,” State Development, Jobs and Trade minister Roger Cook said. 

“This is a significant announcement for the manufacturing industry in Western Australia, and is testament to the work of the Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group, which will now undertake the full feasibility study.” 

The action group, which Rio Tinto is part of, was tasked with developing a competitive iron ore railcar manufacturing industry in Western Australia. 

An independent pre-feasibility study commissioned by the Western Australian government has identified initiatives for the manufacture, refurbishment and maintenance of iron ore railcar wagons. 

By supplying the iron ore sector with railcar wagons and components, the local steel fabrication industry will support more Western Australian jobs into the future. 

The state government is implementing its WA Jobs Plan and has established a $15 million local manufacturing investment fund to help existing businesses retool, so that they can build iron ore wagons and components. 

“Boosting local manufacturing will create a pipeline of local jobs and enable our state to become more self-sufficient,” Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said. 

Former minister for Emergency Services and Corrective Services Francis Logan has been appointed to chair the WA government’s Iron Ore Railcar Wagons Manufacturing and Maintenance Action Group. His extensive and relevant experience brings a strong commitment to working with industry in continuing to deliver jobs for Western Australia. 

The action group will continue the work from the pre-feasibility phase. It will guide the development of a full feasibility study on the viability of manufacturing and maintaining iron ore railcar wagons and components in Western Australia. 

Keogh Bay People, a registered Aboriginal business, have been re-engaged to deliver the full feasibility report, anticipated to be delivered during the first half of 2022. 

These initiatives build on the WA government’s commitment to return rail manufacturing to the Midland area, which will result in 246 METRONET C-series railcars and six cars to replace the existing Australind service. 

This is being undertaken at the new METRONET railcar facility in Bellevue, which has been constructed with close to 8,500 tonnes of WA steel and is creating over 200 long-term jobs.