Western Australia’s newest airport has opened at Rio Tinto’s $2.6 billion Gudai-Darri (formerly known as Koodaideri) iron ore project in the Pilbara where construction is progressing ahead of expected production ramp-up in early 2022.
The facility can accept a range of different aircraft including Boeing 737s, A320s, F100s and King Airs. The current flight schedule includes four flights a week with additional flights expected to be added to the schedule next year. The airport is expected to handle more than 600 workers in a day at peak operating times, according to Rio.
The airport will deliver significant benefits in terms of minimising employee interaction with vehicles and driving, as well as helping to manage employee fatigue thanks to a significant reduction in travel time from an alternate regional airport, Rio says. The airport will also provide a safer landing option for Rio Tinto’s long-standing partner, the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Rio Tinto Projects General Manager, Gudai-Darri, Anthony Radici, said: “You get a real sense of the immense size and scale of our Gudai-Darri operation once you fly into this new airport.
“The construction phase of the project is progressing well with a significant amount of infrastructure at the mine now built, millions of cubic metres of material moved, a new access road, a significant amount of the rail formation installed, two new bridges constructed and now a brand new airport.”
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Acting Chief Executive, Ivan Vella, said: “The construction phase of Gudai-Darri, our most technologically advanced mine, has a strong focus on supporting local businesses with contracts valued at more than $2.3 billion awarded to date.
“These contracts have supported approximately 2,000 jobs in the construction phase and the mining operation is expected to support about 600 jobs on an ongoing basis. We are proud to support West Australian businesses as we progress a pipeline of investment opportunities in the Pilbara valued at more than A$10 billion ($7.3 billion) over the three years to 2022.”
Contracts at Gudai-Darri valued at more than $2.3 billion have been awarded to local Pilbara, Pilbara Aboriginal and West Australian Businesses including Primero Group, NRW, DTMT, Pindan, White Springs, Hicks Civil & Mining and Karratha Earthmoving & Sand Supplies.
The full construction and design of the airport will be completed by local partners Primero Group, NRW, Worley and GHD, together with NRW subcontractors Colas, Fulton Hogan, TEC services, Brookdale Contractors, Bennco and Karlka Fencewright.
Gudai-Darri is a greenfield mine development, around 35 km northwest of the Yandicoogina mine in the East Pilbara mining region. The mine will initially be developed as a nominal 43 Mt/y high-grade, dry processing operation.