Rio Tinto completes commissioning of Amrun bauxite mine

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Rio Tinto has completed commissioning of the USD1.9 billion (A$2.6bn) Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.

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 10m tonnes, at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally. Rio Tinto CEO J-S Jacques said: “Amrun will provide jobs, support businesses and contribute to growth in the region for the next 50 years, building on A$2.2 billion of contracts with local, state and national businesses.”

In an industry first, Amrun’s one km-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.

Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive Steve McIntosh said: “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.”

The Amrun project

Amrun is about 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 22.8m tonnes a year, with options to expand.

At the peak of construction, 1,200 people worked on site. Since project inception, close to 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been employed by the project. Rio Tinto has a long history of partnering with Traditional Owners on Cape York. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up one in four employees at its existing Western Cape operations. The Amrun mine will continue creating opportunities for Indigenous people from Cape York and the surrounding region.

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