Alcoa to boost Australian production, cut Spanish workforce

Alumina. Image: Alcoa

Alcoa of Australia has proposed multiple expansion plans for its Pinjarra alumina refinery and Huntly bauxite mine in Western Australia.

The company has applied to the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to increase alumina production at Pinjarra by five per cent, from 5 million tonnes a year to 5.25 million tonnes a year.

It is also looking to increase Huntly’s rate of mining to supply up to 2.5 million tonnes a year of bauxite for export.

Alcoa intends to transition the world’s second largest bauxite mine into the Myara North and Holyoake regions.

The Huntly mine provides ore to Pinjarra and Kwinana alumina refineries, supplying around 26 million tonnes of bauxite to both in 2018.

The EPA stated the Huntly expansion would clear a maximum of 6700 hectares of native vegetation, and the refinery an additional 10 hectares.

Alcoa rehabilitates around 600 hectares of mined land each year, with more than 20,000 hectares rehabilitated since its bauxite mining and associated alumina refining operations started in Western Australia in 1963.

The company’s proposal is open to public comments.

Contrary to the Australian expansions, Alcoa is set to let go employees at its San Ciprián aluminum facility in Spain.

This would affect up to 534 employees at the plant, having incurred significant and recurring financial losses that are expected to continue.

Alcoa has discussed the “unsustainable circumstances” with the workers’ representatives, and will begin its 30-day consultation period with the Works Council.

The San Ciprián alumina refinery will not be affected in this process.

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