Escondida, in northern Chile, is the world’s largest copper mine. It produces around 1.2 million tonnes a year, accounting for 5.5% of global production* (*2018 reference).
The mine, located in the hyper-arid northern Atacama Desert, is moving to 100% renewable power by tapping into Chile’s rich solar and wind resources. This supports Chile’s wider “Energía 2025” power policy target for 20% of all Chilean energy to come from renewable sources by 2025. From mid-2021, the power supply at Escondida will be largely sourced from renewable energy.
Water is critical to the mining operations at Escondida and to the communities in the Atacama Desert and, to reduce groundwater usage, desalination plants have been installed.
Escondida is owned by Rio Tinto (30%), BHP (57.5%) and JECO Corporation consortium comprising Mitsubishi, JX Nippon Mining and Metals (10%), JECO 2 Ltd (2.5%).
Escondida is managed by BHP. We provide regular input on strategic and policy matters through participation in an Owners’ Council, advisory committees and other engagements.
The Alumar alumina refinery, in São Luís, Maranhão, north east Brazil, started operations in 1984 and has been an important economic driver in the region ever since. The majority of the employees are hired locally. The refinery is a joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (10%), with the remaining 90% owned by South32 and Alcoa.
Expansions in 2009 more than doubled production and, today, Alumar produces 3.6 million tonnes of alumina per year, making it the largest alumina refinery in South America.
The refinery is a joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (10%), with the remaining 90% owned by South32 and Alcoa.
Gladstone Power Station
The GPS was built by the Queensland Government and started operating in 1976. Today, GPS is Queensland’s largest single power station and an important generating facility in the National Electricity market.
GPS is operated by NRG Gladstone Operating Services. Rio Tinto owns 42.125 % of the station along with NRG Energy Inc. (37.5%), Southern Cross GPS Pty Ltd (8.25%), Ryowa II GPS II Ltd (7.125%) and YKK GPS (Qld) Pty Ltd (4.75%).
GPS ensures that it minimises the environmental impacts related to its operation through a range of programmes and by ensuring that waste products are recycled or treated, monitored and controlled.
GPS participates in the Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Programme, a joint arrangement with other industries to monitor water quality of the Port Curtis Waterway and the Clean and Healthy Air for Gladstone programme to monitor air quality in the local region.
GPS conducts regular environmental awareness training and encourages all employees to consider energy consumption and protection of the environment.
Learn more about the Gladstone Power Station
A large undeveloped mineral sands deposit in Inhambane, Mozambique, could be a valuable source of ilmenite.
A large undeveloped mineral sands deposit in Inhambane, Mozambique, could be a valuable source of ilmenite. Ilmenite is a major source of titanium dioxide – predominantly used as a white pigment in products such as paints and paper.
We conducted exploration activities in relation to the Chilubane, Dongane and Jangamo mineral sands prospects in Mozambique – collectively known as the Mutamba Project – under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy of the Republic of Mozambique from 2015 to 2018.
In line with this MoU, Rio Tinto and Savannah Resources Plc and AME East Africa Limited (a subsidiary of Savannah) agreed to establish the Mutamba Project Joint Venture to develop the resource.
The Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) mine in Porto Trombetas, northern Brazil opened in 1979.
Today, it is one of the country’s largest bauxite mines, producing 18 million tonnes of bauxite per year.
MRN is a joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (12%), Vale (40%), and South32, CBA, Alcoa and Norsk Hydro (48%).
Queensland Alumina Limited
Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) in Gladstone, Queensland, which began operations in 1967, was the first alumina refinery in Australia.
Today, it is one of the world’s largest alumina refineries, producing approximately 3.7 million tonnes of the world’s best smelter-grade alumina per year.
QAL is an independently managed joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (80%) and Rusal (20%).
In 2019, QAL announced a five-year, $240 million investment in the refinery as part of a Five-Year Environmental Improvement Programme, developed to improve QAL’s environmental performance, including air quality, odour, noise, land and water management.
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 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 were 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.
The Sangaredi bauxite mine, in the Sangaredi Plateau, north western Guinea, opened in 1973 and has an annual capacity of 14 million tonnes of high quality bauxite.
Rio Tinto owns 22.95% of the mine via a stake in Halco which holds 51% of the mine’s shares. The remaining 49% belongs to the Guinean Government’s Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG).
Sohar Aluminium, which began operating in 2008, is the Sultanate of Oman’s first greenfield aluminium smelter.
Approximately 60% of the production is earmarked for sale as liquid metal to local downstream industries, while the rest is exported as solid aluminium.
The company also operates a dedicated port facility at the Port of Sohar, which can handle vessels up to 75,000 tonnes.
Sohar Aluminium is jointly owned by Rio Tinto (20%), Oman Oil Company (40%), and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA) (40%).
Learn more about Sohar Aluminium
Tomago Aluminium in Tomago, New South Wales in Australia, has been operating since 1983 and today is Australia’s largest aluminium smelter, producing 580,000 tonnes of aluminium per year.
Tomago Aluminium is an independently managed joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (51.55%), Gove Aluminium Finance Limited (36.05%) and Hydro Aluminium (12.40%).
Innovation at Tomago
Tomago’s greenhouse gas emissions are among the lowest recorded by any aluminium smelter in the world. Emissions created during the smelting process pass through ducting to treatment plants, known as dry scrubbers, where impurities are removed.
Tomago has a comprehensive environmental management programme, focusing on emissions control and incorporating one of the world’s most advanced pollution-control and environmental protection systems.
Among the emissions carried to the dry scrubbers are fluorides, which, with other fumes and dust, form particles that are captured in large filter bags. These particles are returned to the smelter as feed material. This process is more than 99% effective in removing fluoride from the gases collected.
At Tomago, we have an out-of-pay donation scheme by which employee donations are matched dollar-for-dollar by Rio Tinto. Charities receiving funding from this program in 2019 included Soldier On and The John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Since its inception, the scheme has donated more than A$1 million to such local charities.
Tomago has partnerships with more than 500 suppliers from the Hunter Region, and works with them to deliver results through continuous improvement and innovation. Tomago recognises their partners every year at their annual Supplier Awards.
Learn more about Tomago