Green light for new Rio Tinto bauxite project

A new bauxite project has been given the go-ahead in Northern Queensland, which will provide ongoing employment for 1100 people.

Rio Tinto’s Amrun project will be located 40 kilometres south of the East Weipa and Andoom mines on the Cape York Peninsula.

Approximately $1.9 billion will be invested in the new venture, which will result in planned output of 22.8 million tonnes of bauxite per year to replace production from the depleting East Weipa mine, however design will provide for an increase to 50 million tonnes per year.

The initial production phase will increase exports from Cape York by 10 million tonnes per year.

The Amrun construction phase will involve building the bauxite mine, processing plant and port facilities.

According to Rio Tinto, the majority of the capital expenditure will take place in 2017 and 2018, and the project will come online in 2019.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said Amrun was one of the highest quality bauxite projects in the world, and would deliver significant benefits to stakeholders.

“In addition to generating attractive returns, with mining costs in the first quartile of the industry cost curve, it will provide jobs and strengthen the economy fort the people of Cape York and Queensland for many decades,” he said.

“This long-life, low-cost, expandable asset offers a wide variety of development options and pathways over the coming decades we are establishing Cape York bauxite as the product of choice for the Chinese seaborne market with consistent quality, security of supply and strong technical marketing support.

“Amrun will be significant in helping to meet growing bauxite demand from China.”

Rio Tinto currently employs around 1400 people at their Cape York bauxite operations, which cover around 1.49 billion tonnes of bauxite reserves and 1.91 billion tonnes of resources in the region.

Around 24 per cent of the Rio Tinto employees on Cape York are Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, and the company said it intends to continue creating those opportunities.

By agreement with traditional owners, Rio Tinto will change the name of the project from South of Embley to Amrun, which is the Wik-Waya name for the area where processing and port facilities will be located.

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