Rio Tinto's Amrun project in Queensland, Australia, has achieved a significant milestone, successfully making the first shipment of bauxite, six weeks ahead of schedule.

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First bauxite from the Amrun mine being loaded. Image source ©Rio Tinto

The US$1.9 billion (A$2.6 billion) investment in Amrun will replace production from the depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite exports by around 10 million tonnes. Amrun is expected to reach a full production rate of 22.8 million tonnes a year during 2019.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Chief Executive, Alf Barrios, believes that bringing Amrun online further strengthens the company’s position as a leading supplier in the seaborne market.

“We have the largest bauxite resources in the industry and are geographically well positioned to supply China’s significant future import needs, as well as supporting our refinery and smelting operations in Australia and New Zealand.”

At a ceremony on the Western Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland – attended by local Wik-Waya Traditional Owners and representatives of the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement (WCCCA) – more than 80,000 tonnes of bauxite were loaded on to the RTM Weipa bound for Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.

Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said Rio Tinto was proud to have delivered the project safely, ahead of time and within budget “thanks to innovation in the design and fabrication of key infrastructure purpose-built for construction at Amrun's remote location”.

During construction, the Amrun development set a benchmark in supporting local and regional suppliers with US$1.6 billion (A$2.1 billion) invested with Australian companies, including US$181 million (A$244 million) invested with local Cape York companies.

At the peak of construction, 1200 people worked on site, and since project inception in May 2016, close to 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been employed by the project.


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