Rio Tinto’s first shipment of bauxite from the Amrun bauxite project in Queensland has arrived at the Port of Gladstone.
The $US1.9 billion ($2.6 billion) Amrun mine has been earmarked as a replacement for the depleting East Weipa mine.
Amrun will ramp up to 22.8 million tonnes a year in 2019, increasing Rio’s annual bauxite exports by up to 10 million tonnes. Construction of the project involved over 1200 people at its peak.
The 80,000 tonne shipment was loaded onto the vessel RTM Weipa for departure from the Western Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland on December 3. The departure was achieved six weeks ahead of schedule, marking a milestone for the company.
The bauxite will be transported to Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery for processing before eventual export to China.
Yarwun general manager Mark Gilmore said the delivery marked the start of additional supply to the company’s two alumina refineries and smelter in Gladstone and would “support China’s significant import needs for decades to come”.
“Amrun has provided a major boost to the Queensland economy, and will continue to do so, not only on Cape York Peninsula, but also here in Gladstone,” he said.
Rio Tinto is the largest producer of bauxite in the world, producing 50.8 million tonnes in 2017.