Rio and Chalco call it stumps on $20bn QLD bauxite deposit

Mining major Rio Tinto and Chinese owned Chalco have opted out of bidding for the $20 billion Aurukun bauxite deposit in Cape York, leaving Glencore and Australia Indigenous Resources in the race.

The Queensland government released a shortlist of five bidders to pitch for the Aurukun deposit in April.

The contenders were given a deadline of September 13 to submit development their proposals.

Queensland acting Premier Jeff Seeney this week confirmed Australian Indigenous Resources and Glencore had both submitted proposals by the deadline.

The exit of Chalco who has previously held the lease and in the past proposed to build a $3 billion refinery, as well as Rio who received environmental approval for the construction of its $1.3 billion bauxite mine expansion in North Queensland in May, makes it likely the Aurukun deposit will remain undeveloped.

Lifting chances ground will remain unbroken, Glencore boss Ivan Glassenberg last week said the company would no longer be investing in new projects when returns are not assured, explaining projects need to be economically sound to go ahead.

Australian Indigenous Resources is a joint venture between businessman John Benson’s Aust-Pac Capital and Hong Kong investors APAC Resources.

The fifth bidder, Cape Alumina, is yet to official withdraw from proceedings but didn’t submit a proposal, reports.

Seeney said the Queensland government would evaluate the two proposals based on environmental factors and benefits to native titleholders, locals and the state.

“When I visited the region in August last year, I was impressed by the strong desire within the community for a development that will unlock economic and social benefits for Aurukun,” Seeney said.

“This means that a proposal must go beyond the promises of yesteryear and chart a clear course to a mining development where the rewards are shared.

“The Queensland government will now assess each proposal keeping in mind the project must be delivered at no cost or risk to the state and must meet strict environmental conditions,” he said.

Seeney has previously stated the bauxite lode near the Watson River, north of Cairns is essential to the creation of a vibrant economic future for the Aurukun community.

Aluminium Corporation of China Limited (CHALCO) spent a reported $100 million on work of a previous lease over the Aurukun but cancelled the $3 billion deal in 2011, saying the previous Labor government's condition of building a refinery was unworkable

A final decision is expected by the end of the year.

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