Rio Tinto uses labs as makeshift hand sanitiser production sites

Rio Tinto's Bell Bay aluminium smelter in Tasmania.

Rio Tinto Aluminium has offered up its Australian and New Zealand laboratories to develop hand sanitiser to help ease the demand for this product.

Chemists and researchers have developed hand sanitiser formulas at Rio Tinto’s Bell Bay site in Tasmania, the Yarwun refinery near Gladstone, Queensland and the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) at Tiwai Point.

The sanitiser formulas have been developed to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s standards, to ensure the finished product helps reduce the spread of the virus.

At Bell Bay, the research and chemical teams made a successful five-litre batch and have sourced ethanol to make an extra 75 litres of hand sanitiser which has already started manufacturing.

The team at NZAS has produced 103 litres of sanitiser so far, which is being used across the site.

Meanwhile at the Yarwun refinery, a five-litre test batch has been successfully developed.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific operations managing director Kellie Parker said the company is pleased that its teams’ knowledge can be used to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“Our priority is the wellbeing of our people and the communities where we operate,” Parker said.

“Using the knowledge of our local teams to develop hand sanitiser in our laboratories can help protect Rio Tinto workers and reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), while at the same time easing the strain on supply for the local community.”

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