Rio Tinto has completed commissioning of the US$1.9 billion ($AU2.6 billion) Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.

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Image ©Rio Tinto

The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 million tonnes, at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally.

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said that Amrun was completed early and under budget, demonstrating Rio Tinto’s productivity and innovation capabilities.

“By applying fresh thinking, we also delivered safety, environmental, cost and timing benefits,” said Mr Jacques.

“Amrun will provide jobs, support businesses and contribute to growth in the region for the next 50 years, building on $AU2.2 billion of contracts with local, State and national businesses [during construction].”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that Weipa’s bauxite will be used to make aluminium for mobile phones, aeroplanes, vehicles and many other applications around the world.

“The Amrun project is one of the sector’s proudest achievements and I am delighted to be visiting this amazing mine and its workers once again,” commented Mr Palaszczuk.

In an industry first, Amrun’s 1-kilometre-long export facility was built in modules off-site and then brought to Amrun and connected. This reduced over-water construction and painting in the culturally significant and environmentally sensitive region and reduced construction time by a year. It also increased safety by removing the need for 300,000 work hours that would have been spent at height and over water.

“Game-changing innovations and collaborations such as these are vital for advancing the future of the mining and metals industry globally in a safe, cost-effective and replicable manner,” said Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive Steve McIntosh.

Amrun is located approximately 40 kilometres south of Rio Tinto’s existing East Weipa and Andoom mines on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland.

The mine, plant and export facility were approved in 2015, with a targeted start date of 2019. Rio Tinto made Amrun’s first shipment in December 2018, six weeks ahead of schedule. At full production, Amrun will have capacity of 22.8 million tonnes a year, with options to expand.