In far north Queensland, Australia, a wedge of land extends into the Torres Strait and on its western lip there is a sandy point at Boyd Bay. It’s a significant area for Wik-Waya Traditional Owners and, in traditional language, it’s called Amrun.
Amrun is also the name given by the Wik-Waya Traditional Owners to the new A$2.6 billion world-class bauxite mine, currently under construction, south of Rio Tinto’s East Weipa and Andoom mines on the Cape York Peninsula.
Production and shipping is expected in the first half of 2019 with planned initial output being 22.8 Mt/a and options to expand up to 50 Mt/a in the future.
The Amrun Project includes a mine, processing facilities, power station and a port.
“Amrun is an opportunity to build a mine of the future, using some of the latest techniques in fabrication and construction of the wharf and the processing plant,” said Stephen McIntosh, Group executive, Growth & Innovation.
Australia is the world’s largest bauxite producer, accounting for about one-third of global output with some of the world’s highest grade deposits found in north Queensland. There is growing demand globally for bauxite, the main raw material used in the production of alumina and aluminium metal, and Rio Tinto is establishing Cape York bauxite as the product of choice.
The dynamic of the project has more layers than the reddish brown bauxite pebbles that will be mined from the surface. There is rich cultural heritage, biodiversity and unique geophysical conditions. There are shared aspirations, new ways to enable local participation and innovative construction.
Amrun will provide jobs, support business development and contribute to socio-economic growth in the region for the next 50 years. So far, A$1.92 billion has been spent on Australian suppliers and, at peak in December 2017, the on-site construction workforce was 1,250.
Like all mines though, it will not be there forever. Half a century is a long time to plan ahead, but Rio Tinto is doing just that – planning for the end in the beginning.
“As part of planning for closure, we work with stakeholders to understand the community’s priorities, set closure objectives, manage risks and identify sustainable, beneficial future land uses,” says Marcia Hanrahan, project director of the Amrun Project.
“The work we’ve done together with the Wik-Waya people through the life of construction has laid the foundations for the positive legacy this project will leave.”