On July 9, 2014, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the West Angelas iron ore mine in Western Australia together with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as part of his tour of Oceania. The mine is jointly owned and operated by Rio Tinto, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation ("NSSMC"), and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. through Robe River Iron Associates ("Robe River JV"; Rio Tinto 53%, Mitsui 33%, NSSMC 14%).
The Robe River JV, in which Mitsui has participated since its establishment in 1970, is a joint venture that symbolizes the friendship between Japan and Australia.
Mitsui's President & CEO Masami Iijima, together with top management from Rio Tinto and NSSMC, hosted the prime ministers' mine tour. The West Angelas mine has been exporting iron ore to the Asian market, including Japan, since production commenced in 2002. The total production capacity at the mine will be expanded from the current 29 million tons per annum (mtpa) to 35 mtpa. With the mine expansion, Robe River JV's nameplate capacity will increase to 70 mtpa in early 2015.
Through the Robe River JV, Mitsui will contribute to further strengthening and deepening the relationship between Japan and Australia, and also continue efforts to ensure a stable supply of iron ore in response to expected growth in medium- to long-term global demand.