Rio thankful for radioactive capsule's find

2nd February 2023 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH ( – Major Rio Tinto has expressed its gratitude to Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services for coordinating the successful search effort to locate a missing capsule lost while in transit from the company’s Gudai-Darri iron-ore mine in the Pilbara, in Western Australia.

The radioactive capsule, which is part of a gauge used to measure the density of iron-ore feed, was lost in transit along a 1 400-km stretch of road between the Pilbara and Perth in January this year.

Rio also thanked the specialist search crews from the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, as well as all other support agencies, for their crucial role in the search and recovery efforts.

“We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of everyone involved in finding the missing capsule,” Rio Tinto iron-ore CEO Simon Trott said.

“While the recovery of the capsule is a great testament to the skill and tenacity of the search team, the fact is it should never have been lost in the first place. I’d like to apologise to the wider community of Western Australia for the concern it has generated.

“We are taking this incident very seriously and are undertaking a full and thorough investigation into how it happened.

“This sort of incident is extremely rare in our industry, which is why we need to investigate it thoroughly and learn what we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again. As part of our investigation, we will be assessing whether our processes and protocols, including the use of specialist contractors to package and transport radioactive materials, are appropriate.”

Current legislation only allows the government to fine Rio A$1 000 for mishandling the radioactive material.