PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Mining major Rio Tinto has shipped the first bauxite from its $1.9-billion Amrun project, in Queensland, some six weeks ahead of schedule.
More than 80 000 t of bauxite were loaded onto the RTM Weipa, bound for Rio’s Yarwun alumina refinery, in Gladstone.
“Bringing Amrun on line further strengthens our position as a leading supplier in the seaborne market. We have the largest bauxite resources in the industry and are geographically well positioned to supply China’s significant future import needs, as well as supporting our refinery and smelting operations in Australia and New Zealand,” said Rio’s aluminium CEO, Alf Barrios, on Monday.
The Amrun production will replace production from the depleting East Weipa mine and will increase Rio’s bauxite exports by around 10-million tonnes a year.
Amrun is expected to reach a full production rate of 22.8-million tonnes a year by 2019.
Rio last year produced 50.8-million tonnes of bauxite, making it the world’s largest producer.
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has welcomed the first shipment from Amrun, with CEO Ian Macfarlane saying the project was a leading example of a resource company working with the local communities and suppliers, while delivering on target.
“First shipment six weeks ahead of schedule is a great achievement for Rio Tinto which is a big part of the Far North economy and communities,” Macfarlane said.
“Rio’s commitment to hiring locally was demonstrated with 1 200 people employed at peak construction, and since project inception in May 2016, close to 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been employed by the project.”