Rio Tinto’s $2.6 billion Amrun project has achieved its first shipment of bauxite, six weeks ahead of schedule.
At a ceremony on the Western Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland, more than 80,000 tonnes of bauxite was loaded on to the RTM Weipa bound for Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.
The Amrun operation 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.
“Bringing Amrun online further strengthens our position as a leading supplier in the seaborne market,” Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said.
“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.
“The Amrun mine will ensure generational jobs for Queenslanders and build significantly on our 55-year history on the Western Cape.”
During construction the Amrun development clocked up a total of $2.1 billion invested with Australian companies, including $244 million 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.