Glencore and Mitsubishi Development have struck a joint venture (JV) agreement to develop the Aurukun bauxite project in western Cape York, Queensland.
Under the agreement, Mitsubishi will acquire a 30 per cent interest in the project, with the remaining retained by Glencore.
The project has the potential to become an open cut bauxite mine with a life of more than 20 years, producing up to eight million dry tonnes of washed bauxite a year.
This would create up to 250 jobs over a two-year construction phase, and a further 400 jobs once operational.
Glencore project director Julian Farrugia said the partnership was a sign of market confidence in the project.
“Since our first involvement with the project we have been engaging with a range of potential customers and interested parties to support the development of the Aurukun bauxite resource, as we’ve done for multiple resource projects in Australia over the past 20 years,” he said.
“We were approached by a number of parties interested to participate in the project, and are pleased to have selected Mitsubishi, with whom Glencore has previous experience in joint venture, to jointly progress this opportunity.”
Mitsubishi previously held a 31 per cent stake in Queensland’s Clermont thermal coal JV with Glencore and Sumitomo Corporation.
The Japanese company also owned a 10 per cent stake in the Ulan thermal coal mine in New South Wales, but both assets were sold to Glencore in 2018.
Glencore is now finishing the Aurukun environmental impact statement, which will be open to public review in mid-2021, ahead of reaching a final investment decision next year.
Farrugia said the company had been openly and transparently discussing the Aurukun project with the community.
The development is also subject to regulatory approvals but has been met with support from the Queensland Government.
State Resources Minister Scott Stewart said his department would continue to work with Glencore and Mitsubishi as they undergo government approvals for the project.
“If approved the Aurukun Bauxite Project could pave the way for more resources companies to invest in Queensland mineral projects,” he said.
According to Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane, the JV marks a continuation of a longstanding partnership between Japan and Queensland over five decades.
“This is a substantial investment by QRC member companies, Mitsubishi Development and Glencore, and a huge vote of confidence in Queensland’s resources sector,” Macfarlane said.
The JV is recognised for its potential to reduce carbon emissions as bauxite is a key ingredient in aluminium, which is recyclable and widely used in the transport, construction and packaging industries.