A mining giant decided to build and service carriages at home instead of abroad.
Rio Tinto confirmed its new partnership with Gemco Rail will assemble and maintain at least 40 rail cars at Forrestfield plus a further 60 at a new Karratha facility.
An average of 10 cars will be delivered each year, with the first locally built vehicle likely to be delivered sometime in 2024. Total work will take more than six years and cost about $150 million.
The proponent claimed this was the first time rail car manufacturing and bearing maintenance would be carried out in the Pilbara. New local jobs and procurement opportunities are promised.
“We have taken our original scope to build iron ore cars in Western Australia and enhanced it to see the construction of ore cars in the same region as our operations. This will bring a new industry to the Pilbara, creating jobs and providing more opportunities for local and Indigenous businesses,” Rio iron ore chief executive Simon Trott said in a public statement.
Other partners include Qiqihar Railway Rolling Stock (QRRS) and the State Government.
“In securing this opportunity with Rio Tinto, Gemco is proud to utilise its experience and capabilities to reestablish the manufacture of iron ore rail cars in Western Australia,” Gemco parent company Engenco CEO Dean Draper said in a public statement.
“We acknowledge the conscious efforts of Rio Tinto to increase their spend with WA based suppliers, our supply partner QRRS, and the support of the Western Australian government in facilitating this investment in Karratha.”