PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified major Rio Tinto has completed the commissioning of its A$2.6-billion Amrun bauxite mine, in the Cape York Peninsula.
“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,” said Rio CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques.
The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase bauxite export capacity by around ten-million tonnes a year, at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally.
Amrun’s first shipment was made in December 2018, six weeks ahead of schedule, and at full production, the mine will have capacity of 22.8-million tonnes a year, with options to expand.
“Amrun will provide jobs, support businesses and contribute to growth in the region for the next 50 years, building on A$2.2-billion of contracts with local, state and national businesses during construction,” Jacques said.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said on Friday that Amrun would help to maintain Australia’s position as the number one producer of bauxite, and foremost aluminium exporter.
“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.
“These factors will underpin the future success of the operation, which is expected to have a 50-year life span,” Canavan said.
However, he noted that Australia should not just export bauxite, but should refine it into higher valued products like alumina and aluminium.
“To do that we must harness our clean coal resources too. Together, bauxite and coal deliver thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in wealth and a strong manufacturing sector to Australia.
“What is concerning is that in the past decade electricity prices have doubled in Australia. As a result, while Australia has doubled its exports of bauxite in the past decade, our exports of aluminium have fallen by 40%.”
Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday said that the Amrun project was one of the sector’s proudest achievements.”
“This is a great day for the entire region, and my government will continue to support the resources sector,” she added.