State’s new $2.6b ‘50 year’ mine
MINING giant Rio Tinto has commissioned the latest stage of the world's biggest bauxite mine on Queensland's Cape York, paving the way for a further 50 years of operations at Weipa.
Rio chief executive J-S Jacques, who flew to Weipa for the opening of the $2.6 billion Amrum mine, said the investment was a sign of confidence in bauxite and the "strong future we see for Cape York".
"Aluminium is one of the fastest growing base metals in the world," he said.
"We forecast demand to grow steadily and remain robust.
"Today not only marks the start of many more decades of viable mining in the region, but supports Rio Tinto's fully integrated aluminium supply chain for downstream Queensland and Australasia.
"Importantly, it also sustains local employment in the region."
Mr Jacques said about $2.2 billion was spent on contracts with local, state and national businesses during construction.
"Amrum was completed early and under budget, demonstrating Rio Tinto's productivity and innovation capabilities," he said.
The mine will lift Rio's capacity across three Weipa operations to about 35 million tons a year, an annual increase of about 10 million tons.
Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk said the bauxite mined from Weipa would be used to make aluminium for mobile phones, aeroplanes, vehicles and many other applications around the world.
"The Amrum project is one of the sector's proudest achievements and I am delighted to be visiting this amazing mine and its workers once again," she said.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the Amrum mine would help keep Australia as the world's largest producer of bauxite and aluminium exports.
"We are already the world's biggest bauxite producer and alumina exporter and product from Amrum site is expected to boost our bauxite export capacity by 10 million tons per year," he said.
"The higher-grade bauxite being mined at Amrum is becoming scarcer around the world, and at the same time, world consumption of alumina is forecast to escalate in coming years.
"These factors will underpin the future success of the operation, which is expected to have a 50 year life span."
The first load of bauxite shipped from the mine last December.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the mine was a leading example of a resource company working with local communities and suppliers.
"Rio Tinto is a significant employer of Indigenous Australians on Cape York and has invested $2.1 billion with local, state and national businesses," Mr Macfarlane said.
"The world is hungry for Queensland's resources, especially bauxite and Amrun adds to the state's diversification story in commodities.
"Bauxite is one of the building blocks of the modern economy, used to produce aluminium, which goes into everything from soft drink cans in your fridge to frames for solar panels on your roof."