Mining giant marks milestone commissioning of Amrun
RIO Tinto will mark a new phase of bauxite and alumina production today with the official commissioning of its $2.6 billion Amrun mine at Weipa.
The mine will provide high-quality material for alumina refineries, including Queensland Alumina Limited and Rio Tinto Yarwun, and overseas markets.
It replaces production from the depleting East Weipa mine.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, who will attend today's official ceremony, said product from Amrun would boost bauxite export capacity by 10 million tonnes per year.
"The higher-grade bauxite being mined at Amrun is becoming scarcer around the world, and at the same time, world consumption of alumina is forecast to escalate in coming years," he said.
"These factors will underpin the future success of the operation."
"The development of Queensland's bauxite resources is a fabled part of our great state's history.
"It was this development that spurred the growth of Gladstone as an aluminium powerhouse, and the creation of the best port in Australia."
While speaking about today's milestone, Mr Canavan will also raise concerns about energy prices and its impact on Australia's exports.
"What is concerning is that in the past decade electricity prices have doubled in Australia," he said.
"As a result, while Australia has doubled its exports of bauxite in the past decade, our exports of aluminium have fallen by 40 per cent."
In December the first shipment of bauxite from the mine arrived at Rio Tinto Yarwun.
At the time Yarwun general manager Mark Gilmore said it marked a milestone for the company.
"It not only marks the start of additional supply to our two alumina refineries and smelter in Gladstone but will support China's significant import needs for decades to come," Mr Gilmore said.
"Amrun has provided a major boost to the Queensland economy."
Amrun is expected to reach a full production rate of 22.8 million tonnes a year during 2019.
The December Resources and Energy Quarterly publication forecast Australia's aluminium and alumina exports to be steady through to 2019-20, at 1.4 million tonnes and over 17 million tonnes per year respectively.