Rio Tinto waiting for go ahead on $1.3 billion project

Rio Tinto Alcan anticipates construction of its $1.3 billion bauxite mine expansion near Weipa will start this year.

The company submitted its final environment impact statement (EIS) to the Federal Government and is hoping the South of Embley will get board approval for construction before the wet season starts in November.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has 40 working days to assess the EIS, which means he has until May 17, cairns.com.au reported.

The EIS said construction would begin in or about 2013 on the condition of environmental and other regulatory grants, and the determination of internal investment approvals for the project by the company.

It also said 950 people would be employed on the $1.32 billion project during construction, pumping $264 million into the Weipa economy and $527.9 million in the Far North.

At full production of 50 million tonnes a year, 1346 people, including contractors, will be employed, with $1.5 billion being spent annually across Australia.

One of the demands made by Burke for the EIS is the impact of ships carrying the bauxite through the Great Barrier Reef between Wepia and the refineries at Gladstone and Yarwun.

The EIS said there would be 60 ships a year at the most, or 0.4 per cent of all shipping movements through the inner Reef passages.

This is a rise of 30 a year.

The report concluded that with the planned avoidance and mitigation measures, the impacts of the project on threatened species, non-avian and avian migratory species, and the Reef, would not be major.

Burke said the final EIS must tackle the concerns mentioned during the public consultation period.

“I am absolutely committed to the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living thing in the world and one of the planet’s most important environmental assets.”

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