Rio Tinto expands Alcan Weipa mine by $1 billion

Rio Tinto’s $1 billion expansion at the Alcan Weipa bauxite mine will employ 630 people in the construction phase, due to start next year.

Rio Tinto’s $1 billion expansion at the Alcan Weipa bauxite mine will employ 630 people in the construction phase, due to start next year.

Over 80 people turned out at Weipa to hear about the South of Embley Project which will extend the life of the mine by 40 years and employ up to 1200 people.

The site, located near Boyd Point, 45 kilometres southwest of Weipa and 50 kilometres north of Aurukun, will undergo a staged increase of as much as 50 million tonnes a year from a shallow open cut mine, using trucks and loaders.

Beneficiation plants, a diesel-fuelled power station, barge and ferry facilities, a dam, an access road, front end loaders, a haul truck fleet and ancillary equipment will be included in the infrastructure for the mine which will  supply Rio’s Yarwun refinery and Queensland Alumina refinery at Gladstone, China, Asia, Europe and North America.

A feasibility study is being conducted by the mining company on the extension which will gradually replace depleted bauxite reserves at the East Weipa and Andoom mining areas.

It will also ensure continuity in Rio’s supple to the two Gladstone alumina refineries and continue contribute to the economy of the Western Cape, with employment and other benefits.

It has been welcomed by local government, according to The Cairns Post.

 “We welcome any increased activity in the mining sector which will not only benefit the Cape but the entire region,” Cairns Chamber of Commerce resource and industrial taskforce chairwoman Sharon Dawson said.

The environmental impact statement is expected to be available for public review and comment soon.

 “Construction could start in 2012, depending on regulatory and internal approvals,” the newsletter said.

“A construction workforce will be accommodated in a temporary construction  village on site and, once operational, employees would commute daily to the mine.”

Weipa Town Authority member Peter Graham told The Cairns Post the community was pleased about the long term future of mining operations and hoped the airport would receive an upgrade too.

He said a 40km long high speed road would be built from the airport to the mine site and the size of the mining stockpile would increase from 400m long to 2km long.

In the town meeting they were told would start in the first quarter next year with the mine up and running in early 2015, Graham said.

Image: Queensland government
 

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