Construction on our world-class Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone, in Queensland, Australia, began in 2002, and the first alumina shipped in late 2004.
Expansions in 2012 doubled production, and today, Yarwun produces more than three million tonnes of alumina per year, which is exported to customers in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific region.
Innovation at Yarwun
In 2018, Gladstone became the home of innovation – Rio Tinto’s Queensland Research and Development Centre (QRDC) relocated within Australia from Brisbane to Yarwun Refinery.
QRDC is Rio Tinto’s global centre for technology, research and development in the alumina refining process. The move confirms the need for our Research & Development team to be closer to the operations as a series of potentially game-changing technologies will be trialled in the coming years.
The QRDC provides laboratory and technical support to the Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) and Yarwun Alumina refineries, northern Australia bauxite mines, and to the Rio Tinto Commercial group supporting bauxite sales into China.
The Yarwun and QAL refineries provide test platforms for our bauxite technologies globally, which helps market our northern Australian bauxite all around the world.
Our contribution to the broader Gladstone community is through Rio Tinto Here for Gladstone which is funded by Rio Tinto, 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 that 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.
Taxes & Royalties
At Yarwun, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land in the Port Curtis Coral Coast region: the Byellee, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang and Taribelang Bunda people.
We protect cultural heritage sites identified during archaeological surveys before the operation was built by safekeeping artefacts and protecting important scar tree sites from disturbance.
Cultural awareness is also important to our culture at site; all of our employees must undergo cultural awareness training before starting their job at Yarwun.
We contribute in many ways to the Gladstone economy, including by sourcing goods and services locally wherever possible. And in 2018 alone, we spent more than A$159 million on 183 local businesses.