Rio Tinto has committed close to $2 billion to the more than 1000 Australian businesses it has engaged during development of the Amrun bauxite project in Far North Queensland.
The miner expects to launch production and shipping at Amrun in the first half of 2019, with ramp-up to full capacity scheduled by the end of next year.
To develop the project, Rio has focused heavily on benefitting Australian companies and businesses, in particular those based locally. It has now directly or indirectly involved 1095 Australian businesses through the project, including more than 700 from Queensland.
A key commitment at Amrun has been to provide opportunities for local and Indigenous businesses and for community members to benefit from the project. To this point, 17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses have been engaged at the project.
Rio Tinto Amrun project director Marcia Hanrahan said the company committed to prioritising Australian, and in particular Queensland companies for goods, services and expertise when the project started in 2015.
“The engagement of more than 1000 Australian businesses on the project so far has provided a significant economic boost with overall Australian commitments now at $1.93 billion including Queensland commitments of $1.37 billion,” Hanrahan said.
“It is important to us that the benefits of our investment are returned to home soil and that we play an active role in developing sustainable Australian communities for the future.”
Rio has committed $218 million to the Western Cape York region, with 70 companies awarded aspects of the project.
Local company Goodline, a company founded in Weipa, was awarded a contract to deliver two significant infrastructure packages for the Amrun Project — the Hey River Terminal, including the barge and ferry berths, and the accommodation village.
Goodline Queensland manager Weipa Rob Potter said the company, which started out as a small locally-owned business, was proud to have secured contracts of this scale in competition with some of Australia’s largest construction companies.
“The packages of work secured on the project to date have allowed us to expand our local Indigenous engagement through direct employment and partnering with local Indigenous businesses,” Potter said.
Australian construction company McConnell Dowell’s Queensland branch also benefitted from working on the project after being engaged to construct the Chith Export Facility at the site.
“Via a collaborative effort we had the opportunity to use an innovative construction method for wharf building that in the future will pave the way globally for similar projects,” McConnell Dowell Queensland project manager Graeme Brown said.
“We are delighted to have had the chance to work with Rio Tinto on this exciting new development.”
The Amrun project, about 40km south of Rio’s East Weipa and Andoom mines, has also been a significant employer of people in the region.
Around 900 people are currently working on the construction of the site, with the workforce having peaked at 1250 during the December 2017 quarter.
According to Rio, 80 per cent of workers are from Queensland and close to 200 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander including over 60 local Aboriginal people.