Mining major Rio Tinto has announced its plan to contribute A$20m ($15m) to the Government of Western Australia to help fund a new hospital at Tom Price in Pilbara.

This partnership will aid in facilitating building a hospital that will feature an emergency department, inpatient ward and consulting rooms for visiting services.

The hospital will also have a new medical imaging equipment and telehealth technology that links locals with Perth-based medical specialists, either by phone or video.

The mining firm’s contribution will help to replace the present 54-year old Tom Price District Hospital. This funding contribution forms part of the firm’s ongoing commitment to the Pilbara region.

Western Australia Premier and Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade Mark McGowan said: “I’m delighted to have worked with Rio Tinto to replace the ageing Tom Price Hospital, which will service local families, as well as local Aboriginal communities.

“This will deliver a massive improvement in health outcomes for people in Tom Price and provide a state-of-the-art hospital to replace an ageing facility.”

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Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Ivan Vella said, “With a large presence in the Pilbara, Rio Tinto has a responsibility to work with both State and local governments to help improve the future of the region.

“We are pleased to partner with the State Government to invest in important infrastructure for regional communities. This new hospital will improve health services for local residents as well as provide opportunities for local businesses to contribute it its construction.

“Rio Tinto has a strong commitment to Tom Price. We will continue to invest in projects that support local communities and regions to continue to develop as vibrant, sustainable communities.”

The mining firm’s funding commitment for the hospital project is in addition to its Pilbara Covid-19 support package, which has included A$1m ($0.8m) for both the City of Karratha and the Shire of Ashburton.

Currently, planning for the new hospital is underway.

The hospital was originally a single building built by Hamersley Iron/Rio Tinto in 1967. It was extended in 1968, 1970, 1979 and 1997.

The current Tom Price Hospital will continue to be operational during the construction of the new facility.