Rio Tinto says it has completed commissioning of the $1.9 billion Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.
This follows the company completing the first shipment of bauxite back in December, six weeks ahead of schedule.
The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine, also in Queensland, and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 Mt, the company said. This move comes at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally, Rio added.
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.”
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured right), said: “Weipa’s bauxite will be used to make aluminium for mobile phones, aeroplanes, vehicles and many other applications around the world. The Amrun project is one of the sector’s proudest achievements and I am delighted to be visiting this amazing mine and its workers once again.”
In an industry first, according to Rio, Amrun’s 1 km-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,” Rio said. It also increased safety by removing the need for 300,000 work hours that would have been spent at height and over water.
Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive, Steve McIntosh, said: “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.”
Amrun is about 40 km south of Rio’s existing East Weipa and Andoom mines. The mine, plant and export facility were approved in 2015, with a targeted start date of 2019.
At full production, Amrun will have capacity of 22.8 Mt/y, with options to expand.