We own and operate the Weipa bauxite mine on Western Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia. The mine exports over 27 million tonnes of bauxite annually.
In Weipa, Rio Tinto operates under three Aboriginal agreements: the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement (WCCCA), the Ely Bauxite Mining Project Agreement (EBMPA) and the Weipa Township Agreement. These Agreements capture the aspirations of the business and Traditional Owners to work together to create long term mutual value and outline formal consultation processes between the company and the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate. They lay the foundation for intergenerational benefits and sustainable economic, cultural, social and environmental outcomes for the signatory Traditional Owner Groups and communities - including education, employment, training, and cultural heritage management.
The Weipa operations consist of two continuous mining operations at East Weipa and Andoom, two beneficiation plants, 19 kilometres of railway to transport mined bauxite to the port area, two stockpiles and two ship loaders.
Rio Tinto also owns and operates two diesel engine power stations (26 megawatts and ten megawatts), which supply the mine, Weipa town and the neighbouring community of Napranum. The operations’ main administration, warehouse, laboratory and ship loading and port facilities are located at Lorim Point on the Embley River.
The Weipa port can service post-Panamax vessels up to a capacity of 88,000 tonne cargoes. Some product is shipped to international customers but the majority of Weipa bauxite is supplied to the Queensland Alumina Limited and Yarwun refineries, both located in Gladstone, Queensland. These refineries produce alumina as feedstock for Australian aluminium smelting operations and for sale on the international market.
Rio Tinto (formerly Comalco) has mined and shipped bauxite from Weipa since 1963. The original bauxite reserves are gradually being depleted and with continued demand for bauxite, the business has identified significant reserves south of the Embley River. A key milestone for the future of the Weipa operations was reached with the Rio Tinto Board approving funding for the Amrun project in late 2015. Construction on the project is well under way with first shipment planned for the first half of 2019.
Rio Tinto is a major contributor to the regional economy on the Western Cape, including significant investment in local infrastructure to support the Weipa township. The Weipa Town Authority manages the township with the support of local Traditional Owners under the Weipa Township Agreement. The Authority is made up of elected community representatives, a Traditional Owner representative and appointed Rio Tinto Aluminium Weipa personnel. The operation’s biggest contribution to the Western Cape community is through employee wages, taxes and royalties.
Indigenous employment is a key focus area for the business, with around a quarter of the workforce representing Local Aboriginal and Indigenous Australians. We are committed to improving quality employment outcomes for local Aboriginal employees, and focusing on developing existing and potential local Aboriginal leaders across the site.
To support employment in the region beyond the mining industry, Rio Tinto is a signatory to the Western Cape Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA), which brings together representatives from industry, three levels of government and Indigenous stakeholders of the Western Cape. Continuing to play a leading role in this partnership underpins our approach to regional economic development, through the Western Cape’s economy and creating a sustainable increase in Indigenous participation in the broader workforce.
The business’ partnership with the local school, the Western Cape College, also continues to thrive having celebrated a decade of working together in 2015. This partnership supports our Indigenous employment focus and boosts employability for local students by implementing effective structured school-to-work pathways linking school-based programmes with core industry requirements.