Construction manager has reason to smile

AFTER five years of construction, $2.5 billion worth of investment, a global financial crisis and a carefully planned start-up, the Yarwun 2 expansion was officially opened yesterday.

Hundreds of workers in orange shirts and white hard hats lined up as dignitaries and industry bosses listened to general manager Mike Dunstan describe the importance of the achievement at Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun alumina refinery.

Every major politician and company in the region made an appearance.

Goreng Goreng elder Jacqui Johnson welcomed the gathering to the land and Queensland Premier Campbell Newman officially declared the facility open.

For all the emphasis placed on special guests, the day belonged to the Rio Tinto Alcan construction and commissioning team, which has made no secret of the challenges it faced in completing the project.

"The Yarwun expansion project more than doubles production at the refinery to 3.4 million tonnes of alumina per year, enhancing Rio Tinto Alcan's position as one of the world's leading bauxite and alumina producers," RTA Bauxite and Alumina president Pat Fiore said.

"In Gladstone, the Yarwun expansion cements our commitment as a longstanding member of this community.

"Since construction of QAL in 1964, Rio Tinto Alcan has invested more than $500 million in community infrastructure and programs, including housing, bridges and roads."

RTA Yarwun general manager Mike Dunstan said the facility had performed better than expected during commissioning this year.

It is producing about 80% of its eventual capacity.

Construction of Yarwun 2 took five years.

During construction, $1.9 billion was spent on contracts and procurements in Australia, including $360 million in Gladstone and $1.4 billion in Queensland.

Construction manager has reason to smile

ONE person who didn't make a speech at yesterday's ceremony was also one of those with the biggest reason to stop and smile at the achievement.

General manager of construction for the Yarwun 2 project, David Yeoman, spent four and a half years in Gladstone overseeing the $2.5 billion project.

He has since been relocated to other projects, but yesterday he looked a happy man. 

Yarwun 2 construction general manager David Yeoman.
Yarwun 2 construction general manager David Yeoman. Contributed

He said the team who worked to make the expansion a reality felt great satisfaction on the occasion.

"It's not only that we built the project and got it done through fairly adverse circumstances with the global financial crisis, but also the fact (the new facility) has ramped up so well," Mr Yeoman said.

The Observer will present a 20-page feature on Yarwun 2 in its print edition on Saturday.