Rio Tinto has completed the first shipment of bauxite from its Amrun mine in Queensland, Australia, six weeks ahead of schedule.
At a ceremony on the Western Cape York Peninsula in the far north of Queensland, more than 80,000 t of bauxite was loaded on to the RTM Weipa bound for Rio’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.
The US$1.9 billion (A$2.6 billion) investment in Amrun is aimed at replacing production from the depleting East Weipa mine and increasing annual bauxite exports by around 10 Mt. Amrun is expected to reach a full production rate of 22.8 Mt/y during 2019.
Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said: “Bringing Amrun online 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.”
The mining major was able to bring Amrun in ahead of schedule thanks, in part, to an innovation in design and fabrication of key infrastructure purpose-built for construction at Amrun’s remote location, according to Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation Group Executive Stephen McIntosh.
This included design and fabrication of the wharf on the Western Cape York Peninsula, which was constructed over water in essentially 13 pieces.
During construction, the Amrun development set a benchmark in supporting local and regional suppliers with US$1.6 billion invested with Australian companies, including $181 million with local Cape York companies, Rio said.