A new partnership between Rio Tinto and Gemco Rail is set to establish the Pilbara region’s first ever rail ore car manufacturing and maintenance facility.

The partnership will enable Gemco Rail to expand its existing operations, and is expected to create new jobs, increase spending with local and Indigenous businesses and support local economic growth.

Rio Tinto expects to invest approximately $150 million to purchase 100 locally-built ore rail cars over six years, as well as continued investment in bearing refurbishment over ten years, to support the company’s Pilbara operations.

The first 40 ore cars will be built at Gemco Rail’s existing facility in Forrestfield, while the company establishes an additional facility in Karratha.

Once the new Karratha facility is operational, Gemco Rail is expected to build an average of ten ore cars per year, replacing ore cars as they are retired from Rio Tinto’s existing fleet. The new Karratha facility will also support the supply of new and reconditioned ore car bearings from the Pilbara in a first for the industry.

This partnership has been developed by Rio Tinto, Gemco Rail and Qiqihar Railway Rolling Stock (QRRS) and is supported by the Western Australian State Government.

The first Western Australian-built rail car is expected to be delivered in 2024 and the Karratha-based facility is expected to be established by the end of 2024, subject to the availability of a suitable property.

The new Karratha facility will reduce the need to transport iron ore cars and bearings between the Pilbara and Perth, removing an estimated 150 truck journeys from Western Australia’s roads and 300t of CO² each year.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said Rio Tinto aims to create enduring partnerships that generate positive impacts in the regions where it operates, and is proud to be leading the way in bringing iron ore car manufacturing and maintenance to the Pilbara.

“We’ve taken our original scope to build iron ore cars in Western Australia and enhanced it to see the construction of ore cars in the same region as our operations. This will bring a new industry to the Pilbara, creating jobs and providing more opportunities for local and Indigenous businesses,” Mr Trott said. 

Western Australian Premier, Roger Cook, said, “My government is absolutely committed to rebuilding our local manufacturing capability, and we’re getting on with the job of delivering on our commitment.

“Not only will the agreement create jobs and diversify the economy, it will help revitalise and future-proof local manufacturing in Western Australia, including in the Pilbara.”

Engenco Limited, the parent company of Gemco Rail, Chief Executive Officer, Dean Draper, said in securing this opportunity with Rio Tinto, Gemco is proud to utilise its experience and capabilities to re-establish the manufacture of iron ore rail cars in Western Australia.

“Gemco Rail’s investment in the Pilbara reflects our long-term commitment to customers and communities in Western Australia. We acknowledge the conscious efforts of Rio Tinto to increase their spend with Western Australia based suppliers, our supply partner QRRS, and the support of the Western Australian government in facilitating this investment in Karratha.”

QRRS representative, Zhu Yifeng, said as a long-term and valued supplier of Rio Tinto, QRRS is delighted and proud to support Rio Tinto on this important project to contribute to local society and communities.

“We will commit to promote partnership with Rio Tinto and supply excellent products and services continuously.”


Leave a reply

©2024 Mining. All rights reserved


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?