Shipping from Rio’s new $1.45 billion South of Embley bauxite mine to start in 2016

Rio Tinto South Embley bauxite project.

Rio Tinto Alcan announced it expects to spend $528 million over the next three years developing is new South of Embley bauxite mine, located near Weipa in Queensland’s Far North.

The project’s developers have commenced meetings to discuss the provision of goods and services for the mine’s construction which is scheduled to begin next year, pending environmental and company approvals, Cairns.com.au reported.

Project director Laurie Hicks said recruitment and materials supply was currently being considered in Cairns, however preferential treatment for local suppliers would not be given.

“Where several options exist, a bid process will be adopted which may include other local, regional, Australian or offshore suppliers," he said.

"While there will be no preferential treatment, options that promote local content, shorten supply chains, offer indigenous employment and deliver value to the project will be due consideration."

Employing about 950 people, the construction phase will include the building of two beneficiation plants which separate bauxite from waste materials, a diesel-fuelled power station, warehouse, offices, sewage treatment plant, two ferry and barge terminals, a roll-on/roll-off barge facility, temporary accommodation for 2000 people, a water supply dam and a new shiploading and tug-mooring port.

Construction is estimated to take between 2.5 and 3 years with 24 hour bauxite production predicted to begin in the first half of 2016.

Hicks said Far North Queensland "will be the focus of the project's labour recruiting activities”, and that the feasibility of Cairns as a fly-in/fly-out hub and project support centre will be assessed.

Advance Cairns CEO Stewart Christie said the group had been working with Cairns FIFO co-ordinator Jeremy Blockey to actively engage Rio Tinto Alcan to recruit personnel from the Far North of the state.

"We are very hopeful that both Rio Tinto Alcan and Bechtel will hire contractors, personnel and use suppliers from this region for the construction and ongoing operations of this project as the project evolves," he said.

The operation aims to extend current Weipa mining operations for another 40 years.

Image: Herald Sun

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