Rio Tinto to spend $790m on Pilbara

Rio Tinto said yesterday that it plans to invest a further $790m (£495m) in its iron ore project at the massive Pilbara site in Western Australia.

The spending comes a month after the miners won concessions from the Australian government on its proposed resources super tax. Yesterday even the watered-down proposals appeared to come under pressure, as the opposition Liberal-National coalition edged ahead of the Labor party in the polls for the first time.

The coalition is likely to scrap the tax. The election will take place on 21 August.

Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are hoping to get regulatory approval to combine their operations at Pilbara into a joint venture. The investment announced yesterday will be used to drive production at the Pilbara site to 330 million tonnes a year, Rio Tinto said.

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