5 Oct 2012

Rio Tinto starts growing hay

7:36 am on 5 October 2012

Rio Tinto is going into the hay business in the Pilbara in Western Australia.

The iron ore miner is planting Rhodes grass seeds across 850 hectares of land with the intention of

producing hay near Tom Price.

The ABC reports the Hamersley agricultural project is expected to produce about 30,000 tonnes of hay per year for pastoral stations across the North West.

Planting is about to commence and the project is expected to be at full capacity by New Year.

"The first cut we'll be looking at before Christmas," said Rio Tinto water and environment general manager Allan Jackson.

More than a third of that hay will be sold to other pastoralists in the North West.

"We've just got to figure out what we're going to need on our own cattle stations but probably 40% of that could be available for sale and some pastoralists have expressed some interest," he said.

"Bear in mind we have six cattle stations up here with 25,000 head of cattle so we need to supplement them first."

The company bought the stations to ensure continued access for its mining activities.

The ABC reports excess water is being pulled from the Marandoo Mine to grow the seeds for the project.