The service will provide the company with a quicker, cheaper and cleaner alternative to the existing freight delivery route via Perth's Fremantle port.
The new service has started with the arrival of a vessel from Singapore, delivering maintenance supplies for Rio Tinto operations, including rail wagon wheels, wagon parts, oil and lubricants. Future shipments are expected to include tyres for heavy earth moving equipment, conveyor belts, rail wagon and locomotive parts and mining consumables.
"This is an important new service that connects the Pilbara to the rest of the world via the major international shipping hub of Singapore. It is an important breakthrough not only for our business, but it will also provide a great opportunity for the local Pilbara economy by helping to unlock small business growth and supporting job creation," said Richard Cohen, Rio Tinto iron ore managing director of port, rail and core services.
The company expects the service to reduce the lead-time for goods into the Pilbara by six to ten days compared with freight via Fremantle.
It should also save about 3 million litres of diesel fuel by reducing road train travel from Perth.
Moving forward, Rio Tinto is anticipating more than 50% of its freight requirements to the Pilbara will utilise this service.
Rio Tinto has a portfolio of 16 mines in the Pilbara region of Australia.