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Rio Tinto completes first step of expansion

The market has been eagerly awaiting Rio Tinto’s (ASX: RIO) planned infrastructure expansions, and its latest developments are starting to bring a grin to investors’ faces.

Earlier this week Rio, Australia’s biggest iron ore exporter, officially opened its expanded port facilities at Cape Lambert in the Pilbara. The Cape Lambert port was originally built to handle only 55 million tonnes but it, along with the Dampier ports also in Western Australia, are now capable of shipping around 290 million tonnes per year combined.

This makes Rio’s Pilbara operations second in size to only Brazil’s biggest mining corporation, Vale. However, Rio is now focused on developing phase two of the port, rail and power infrastructure that will enable it to export 360 million tonnes of ore per year.

Recently, Monadelphous (ASX: MND) was awarded a $235 million contract for services at Cape Lambert port, known as project B, which is scheduled to be completed late 2014.

The spot price of iron ore has remained buoyant in recent months despite bearish predictions from many analysts and commodities experts. This has helped Rio’s share price, along with other miners such as Fortescue (ASX: FMG) and BHP (ASX: BHP), post significant gains despite the uncertainty going forward.

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Motley Fool contributor Owen Raskiewicz does not have a financial interest in any of the mentioned companies.

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