Boyne Island, Queensland
Boyne Smelters Limited (BSL) has been operating since 1982 and is Australia’s second largest aluminium smelter. The operation is located at Boyne Island in Central Queensland and activities include manufacturing carbon anodes in the carbon plant, aluminium production (smelting) in reduction lines, and casting of molten metal into aluminium products ready to ship. The smelter is adjacent to, and connected via a conveyor belt, to the Queensland Alumina Limited Refinery for the supply of alumina.
BSL is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (59.39%), YKK Aluminium (9.50%), UACJ Australia (9.43%), Southern Cross Aluminium (7.57%), Ryowa Development II (6.34%), Ryowa Development (5.27%) and Sumitomo Chemical (2.50%).
Innovation at BSL
At BSL we contribute to the circular economy by recycling, reusing, and reducing waste and retaining value. For example, we recycle around 156 million aluminium cans every year and are Australia’s largest aluminium can recycling facility.
We took part in Australia’s first Circular Economy Lab in 2019 – a Queensland Government initiative designed to launch innovative projects. One of the outcomes is a collaboration between BSL and Container Exchange which runs Queensland’s Containers for Change scheme. Through this partnership, we are exploring ways to recycle even more of Queensland’s aluminium cans at BSL. This would reduce aluminium cans sent offshore for recycling and, in so doing, retain value in Queensland.
At BSL we also strive to find ways to minimise waste by collaborating with other organisations and businesses to find alternative uses for by-products of the smelting process. For example, Spent Cell Lining (SCL) is a by-product of the smelting process and in partnership with Cement Australia, around 10,000 tonnes per annum of SCL is processed on-site at BSL and then used by Cement Australia as a fuel source for their kilns.
BSL has expanded significantly since the smelter opened in 1982. A series of multimillion dollar investments increased its capacity from 210,000 tonnes of aluminium per year to today’s capacity of more than 500,000 tonnes of aluminium a year.
BSL continues to invest in a range of technology including automation projects and also looks for ways to be more energy efficient. For example, in 2018, BSL implemented a A$23 million Undercell Bus Bar project to increase production by an estimated 9,200 tonnes of metal a year without using additional electricity.
At BSL our contribution to the broader Gladstone community is through Rio Tinto Here for Gladstone which is funded by Rio Tinto Yarwun, Boyne Smelters Limited and Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL). It is governed by a board made up of community and business leaders.
Since its establishment in 2002, Rio Tinto Here for Gladstone has invested A$6.35 million into the Gladstone community across a wide range of projects to improve the health, livelihood and welfare of the Gladstone community.
For example, feedback showed the Gladstone community are concerned about economic development and diversification. So, in consultation with the community, we launched the Here for Business programme in 2016 that provides free business coaching and interest-free micro-finance loans to new or expanding businesses. There have been 25 businesses participating in the programme with 32 local jobs created.
We have also established a university education scholarship programme with the Port Curtis Coral Coast Trust that provides financial support for up to 25 students a year to attend university.
At BSL we are fortunate to be able to work with Education Queensland and support an onsite learning centre (Education Queensland and Industry Partnership Business, Industry and Tourism skills centre) that helps students gain work experience to complete their studies.
BSL’s apprenticeship programme provides people with skills and qualifications to work in the smelting industry. At BSL we pride ourselves on providing quality training in a dynamic environment where apprentices are mentored as they work, allowing them to gain a variety of skills and become experienced tradespeople.
We have a long-standing history of providing apprenticeships, mostly to school leavers looking to start their trade careers, and we generally employ apprentices in the trades of mechanical, electrical, and diesel fitting. Since 2012 we have extended the apprenticeship programme to existing employees who wish to build on their experience by gaining a trade.
At BSL we are committed to contributing to the sustainable development of our community and one of the ways we do this is by striving to employ local people and buy local goods and services. Approximately 73% of our expenditure, including electricity, is sourced from Gladstone suppliers.