Rio Tinto has completed commissioning of the $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula, with an official opening today to mark the achievement.
The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by about 10 million tonnes.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new mine would help keep Australia in the world’s No. 1 position in the production of bauxite and exports of aluminium.
“The higher-grade bauxite being mined at Amrun is becoming scarcer around the world, and at the same time, world consumption of alumina is forecast to escalate in coming years,” Mr Canavan said.
“These factors will underpin the future success of the operation, which is expected to have a 50-year life span.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Amrun had secured 2000 ongoing jobs for the Cape, including 349 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, since the project started in late 2015 – jobs for Weipa and also at Rio Tinto’s Gladstone refinery.
“This is a great day for the entire region, and my Government will continue to support the resources sector,” she said.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “Amrun was completed early and under budget, demonstrating Rio Tinto’s productivity and innovation capabilities. By applying fresh thinking we also delivered safety, environmental, cost and timing benefits.
“Amrun will provide jobs, support businesses and contribute to growth in the region for the next 50 years, building on $A2.2 billion of contracts with local, State and national businesses [during construction].”
In an industry first, Amrun’s 1km-long export facility was built in modules off-site and then brought to Amrun and connected. This reduced over-water construction and painting in the culturally significant and environmentally sensitive region and reduced construction time by a year. It also increased safety by removing the need for 300,000 work hours that would have been spent at height and over water.
“Game-changing innovations and collaborations such as these are vital for advancing the future of the mining and metals industry globally in a safe, cost-effective and replicable manner,” Rio Tinto growth and innovation group executive Steve McIntosh said.