In a presentation to investors and analysts on June 18, Rio Tinto was showcasing its Pilbara operations and detailing its plans to "continue to deliver superior value for shareholders" through additional flexibility and optimisation.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the company is pushing productivity improvements across the business and gaining value from new technologies and innovations.
One example is the AutoHaul rail project, which is on schedule to be implemented by the end of this year and is already creating an uplift in rail capacity.
"Removing our bottleneck in rail and increasing flexibility remain a key priority," said Salisbury.
"This work is progressing well and rail and mine capacity should be in line with nameplate port capacity by the end of 2019.
"As we have said before, we will continue to optimise the system to provide the flexibility to respond to market conditions. However, importantly, capacity is not the same as tonnes shipped. How we use the capacity of our integrated system will be dynamic, in line with a strict value-over-volume approach."
The group's application of other new technologies was also discussed, including the continued roll out of automation, with 95 autonomous trucks and 11 autonomous drills already in operation. Work is progressing on the feasibility study for the Koodaideri project, designed to be the first mine to take full advantage of all these innovations.
Moreover, Rio Tinto has planned a 700km drilling programme for 2018, scheduled at various operational hubs near existing mines in addition to exploration on new leases. The programme will provide both ongoing reserve replenishment and significant optionality to optimise operations, Salisbury said.