Rio Tinto has awarded a bulk earthworks contract valued at $70 million to Queensland-based civil engineering firm QBirt for the development of critical mine infrastructure at its $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite project on Cape York.
Earthworks required for the construction of the project include about 40km of sealed access roads and the haul road network.
QBirt will also develop the mine stockpile zone, tailings and separation ponds and other infrastructure. Construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2017 and conclude by the end of 2018.
At its peak the contract will generate 150 jobs and help support ongoing employment for the existing workforce of 1400 people at Weipa’s bauxite operations.
Rio Tinto Growth and Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said the company was very pleased that a Queensland-based business had won this important work ahead of other competitive bidders.
“QBirt not only brings more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, but shares our commitment to developing a strong and sustainable safety culture at Amrun,” he said.
QBirt is also currently undertaking construction of a tailings facility at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery and has previously completed construction of 300,000m3 of embankment and 7km of mine haul roads at Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine.
The bulk earthworks announcement comes on the back of news that the Townsville division of Vinidex had secured a $20 million contract to supply the Amrun bauxite project.
Vinidex will manufacture more than 26km of high-density pipes and associated fittings required to connect water between the dam and mine processing infrastructure across the Amrun site.
Vinidex chief executive officer Colin Weatherstone said “we are delighted to be given the opportunity to supply the pipe required for such a large project from our North Queensland manufacturing facilities”.
Amrun project general manager Marcia Hanrahan said the contract was another example of Rio Tinto supporting the Australian manufacturing industry.
“Recently we announced Australian supplied and fabricated steel would be used in the construction of the Amrun project’s processing facilities,” she said.
“It’s fantastic to see far north Queensland manufacturers competing for and winning work on the project. In addition to their strategic location, Vinidex’s commitment to health, safety, quality and their innovative approach to product development were key factors in their winning this contract.”
The news followed an announcement over the Christmas period that Decmil Australia had won a contract worth about $50 million for work including the design, fabrication, supply, delivery, construction, installation, testing and commissioning of the mine infrastructure area at the Amrun project.
The design phase is under way and the company expects work on site to start in August this year.
The Amrun bauxite project is scheduled to commence production and shipping in the first half of 2019, ramping up to full production by the end of the year.
At its peak, construction of the project is expected to provide work for around 1100 people. Once operational, Amrun will help to support ongoing employment for the existing workforce of about 1400 employees and contractors at Rio Tinto’s Cape York bauxite operations.