BAUXITE: The rock that powers QAL
GLADSTONE is home to the fourth largest alumina refinery in the world.
Opened in 1967, the QAL refinery plant was constructed near South Trees Island in response to the discovery of bauxite deposits in Weipa, North Queensland.
Here are a few facts compiled by The Observer about bauxite and why it is important for the refinery that you may not know.
- Bauxite is a rock that is the building block for the production of material such as alumina and aluminium.
- The rock that is mined in far North Queensland contains 50% alumina and 50% mud.
- It was discovered in Western Cape York in 1955 by geologists Harry Evans and three assistants.
- To ensure bauxite refining was kept in Queensland, a consortium of Comalco and Kaiser proposed a refinery. However, they were hesitant in selecting a site near Weipa.
- Gladstone was chosen as the site of the plant due to several factors including its land availability, proximity to a harbour and the power station.
- In 2018 the plant produced 3.8 million tonnes of alumina from bauxite shipped from Weipa and Gove, Northern Territory.
- The QAL refinery currently has 930 employees and 230 contractors on site.