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Companies

Mitsui and partners to invest $1.5bn in Australian iron ore mines

New operations with Rio Tinto hoped to cover for falling output at existing sites

  Global iron ore demand is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. on Monday announced plans to develop new iron ore mines in Western Australia along with joint-venture partners Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and Rio Tinto, with production slated to start in 2021.

The companies will spend a total of $1.5 billion on development. The amount invested by each will depend on ownership ratio in the venture. Mitsui, for example, will invest $510 million, or 33% of the total. Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal will be responsible for 14%, or $216 million.

The joint venture has been producing iron ore at the Robe Valley and West Angelas mines since 1972. Current annual output is 65 million tons, but deposits at the sites will be depleted in the near future.

Global demand for iron ore is expected to remain robust, and the venture aims to maintain output levels with the sites.

The new mines will make the most of existing rail and port infrastructure for iron ore shipments, helping lower production costs, according to Mitsui.

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