Above: WA Premier Mark McGowan, Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Simon Trott, Jiro Kobayashi, Executive Counselor Nippon Steel, Motoaki Uno, Senior Executive Managing Officer Mitsui. (Photo: Business Wire)
Representatives of the Robe River Joint Venture partners, Rio Tinto, Mitsui and Nippon Steel, gathered in Perth recently to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the venture’s first shipment of iron ore from the Pilbara to Japan.
The event was attended by past and present executives of the Joint Venture partners as well as local dignitaries including the Premier of Western Australia, Hon. Mark McGowan MLA.
The celebration marked 50 years since the Fujisan Maru departed Cape Lambert on 5 October, 1972, and set sail to Japan loaded with 68,589 tonnes of iron ore. Since then, the Robe River Joint Venture has shipped more than 1.7 billion tonnes of iron ore.
In addition to the ongoing mining operations at West Angelas and the Robe Valley, the joint venture has other major mining infrastructure in the Pilbara, including an iron ore port facility at Cape Lambert, power assets and heavy haul rail lines connecting its operations. Its activities in the Pilbara have helped establish the Pilbara mining towns of Pannawonica and Wickham. The benefits created by the joint venture have flowed beyond the Pilbara and Western Australia, helping to contribute to national and global economic growth and development.
Mitsui Senior Executive Managing Officer Motoaki Uno, said “The Robe River Joint Venture represents a remarkable achievement in the development of the Pilbara's iron ore, and Mitsui is honoured to have been a partner from the very beginning.
“It is wonderful to see how Australia and Japan at that time joined hands together to create a whole supply chain. As Mitsui looks ahead to the next 50 years, we will continue to work as a proud partner to make a positive impact on the world in terms of local communities and the environment, as well as the growth of global industry.”
Nippon Steel Executive Counselor Jiro Kobayashi, said “It is very impressive that Robe River Joint Venture has been supplying iron ore to Nippon Steel as well as other steel mills in Asia for 50 years since the Fujisan Maru set sail in October 1972.
“Iron ore from Robe River Joint Venture has made a significant contribution to our stable production of steel, which has led to the development of Nippon Steel as well as the Joint Venture. We would like to send our appreciation to the Western Australian government and traditional owners for their support of these developments.”
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Simon Trott, said “The Robe River Joint Venture is a remarkable partnership that has spanned half a century and is at the heart of an incredible connection between Australia and Japan, forged in a bold vision for shared prosperity.
“I also want to acknowledge all the Traditional Owners of the country on which the Robe River Joint Venture operates, the Robe River Kuruma, Nglaruma, Yinhawangka, Ngarlawangga and Yindjibarndi nations.
"Our partnership with Mitsui and Nippon Steel has been integral in our journey to being a world-class iron ore business in Western Australia and I am proud of the role the Robe River Joint Venture has also played in the development of modern Japan.
“I thank our Joint Venture partners for their trust, respect and understanding that has made this partnership so successful in delivering a secure, long-term, low-cost source of quality iron ore. In 50 years a lot has changed, but one thing that has remained consistent is the strength of this highly valued partnership.”
Robe River is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (53 per cent), Mitsui Iron Ore Development (33 per cent), and Nippon Steel . (14 per cent).
Operations began in the Robe Valley, near Pannawonica, in 1972 followed by an expansion at West Angelas in 2002. Iron ore is railed to the port of Cape Lambert where lump and fines product is shipped to steel producers, primarily throughout Asia.