Rio Tinto's 53% share of this investment is A$820 million (US$580 million).
The joint venture partners will invest A$967 million (Rio Tinto share A$513 million) to develop the Mesa B, C and H deposits at Robe Valley, and A$579 million (Rio Tinto share A$307 million) in developing Deposits C and D at the existing West Angelas operation. Rio Tinto stated that these investments enable the company to sustain production of the Pilbara Blend, the world's most recognised brand of iron ore, and its Robe Valley lump and fines products, which are highly valued by long-term customers.
Subject to government and environmental approvals, construction of both projects is expected to start next year with an estimated 1,200 jobs created during this phase. First ore is currently anticipated from 2021. These investments will also provide significant opportunities for local businesses as part of Rio Tinto's commitment to local procurement and supporting Western Australian businesses.
Once operational, both projects will feature the latest technology with 34 existing haul trucks to be retrofitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology, delivering safety and productivity gains to the business.
Chris Salisbury, chief executive of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, said: "The development at West Angelas will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend, the industry's benchmark premium iron ore product, while the additional Robe Valley deposits will enable us to continue to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers across Asia.
"The approval of these two projects highlights the strong pipeline of development options within our portfolio as we remain focused on our value-over-volume strategy."
Mark McGowan, premier of Western Australia, commented: "This is a big announcement for Western Australia and yet another sign that confidence is returning to the state's economy. I congratulate Rio Tinto on its investment into these projects, which will create about 1,200 WA jobs in the construction phase."
Rio Tinto's funding commitment for both projects of A$820 million forms part of the company's existing replacement capital guidance of around A$2.7 billion from 2018 to 2020.
Rio Tinto owns a 53% holding in the Robe River Joint Venture, Mitsui 33% and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation 14%.