Rio Tinto said that the first shipment from its A$2.6bn ($1.9bn) Amrun bauxite project in Australia has been dispatched, which is headed towards the company-owned Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone, Queensland.
According to the mining giant, the first shipment from the Amrun bauxite project was achieved six weeks ahead of schedule. The milestone comes a little over three years after Rio Tinto had approved investment in the bauxite mine to meet the growing demand for the commodity in China.
The first shipment saw over 80,000 tons of bauxite loaded on to the RTM Weipa vessel, which is expected to reach Gladstone next week.
The production from the Amrun bauxite mine will replace production from the depleting East Weipa mine and is expected to boost the company’s annual bauxite exports by about 10 million tons.
Rio Tinto said that the Amrun mine will achieve a full production rate of 22.8 million tons a year during 2019. The company has plans to ramp up the production from the mine to up to 50 million tons a year in future.
The bauxite mine is located around 40km south of the company’s existing East Weipa and Andoom mines on the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland.
Rio Tinto claims to be the largest producer of bauxite in the world with production of 50.8 million tons in 2017.
Rio Tinto growth & innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said: “We are proud to have delivered the project safely, ahead of time and within budget thanks to innovation in the design and fabrication of key infrastructure purpose-built for construction at Amrun’s remote location.
“We thank our community and Traditional Owner partners for their continued support and congratulate the Amrun Project and Weipa Operations teams on this great achievement.”
The Amrun bauxite project had involved development of an open-cut mine, processing plant and bauxite stockpiles, a power station, warehouses along with new barge, ferry, and ship loading facilities. More than 1,000 people were involved during the construction of the mine and its associated facilities.
Last month, Rio Tinto approved an investment of A$3.5bn ($2.6bn) in its 100% owned Koodaideri iron ore mine located in the Pilbara region in Western Australia. Subject to a pending approval, the Koodaideri iron ore project is slated to break ground next year and is expected to achieve its first production in late 2021.