Queensland Alumina Limited's red mud dam facility.
Queensland Alumina Limited's red mud dam facility.

Red mud dams expand

WORK has started on the expansion of Red Mud Dam after the Federal Government granted environmental approval for the Rio Tinto Yarwun project.

The project involves the development of six five-metre borrow pits for construction materials at Rio Tinto Yarwun’s Residue Management Area waste facility.

A Rio Tinto Yarwun spokesperson said looking after the environment was important and the company would honour the 21 conditions imposed by the Department of Energy and Environment as part of the approval.

The project involves the clearing of up to 96 hectares of koala habitat and 162.2 hectares of squatter pigeon habitat.

The pits would provide clay, rock and general fill in Gladstone’s State Development Area at Aldoga, about 15km from Gladstone.

“The conditions will make sure any impact on local wildlife is offset by the purchase of suitable habitats,” the spokesperson said.

Another condition was for the company to lodge an offset monitoring plan for approval within 12 months of completion of the project.

The department said within three months of approval, the company must implement the offset management plan for the duration of the approval, until 2045.

The spokesperson said the development of borrow pits for construction materials would allow the company to continue to work with an earthworks contractor well into 2020, which supported about 70 jobs.

Traditional Owners will also be engaged to complete cultural heritage surveys of the area for land clearing.

During the refinery Bayer process to make alumina, undissolved solids from the bauxite are separated and settle to form a red mud.

The red mud is neutralised with sea water and pumped to Residue Management Area 1 for stage.

Each year the RMA 1 wall is raised to meet environment conditions and to ensure adequate capacity is available.

“By having adequate construction materials Rio Tinto Yarwun can continue to operate in Gladstone providing local jobs and economic investment for years to come,” the spokesperson said.