Sunday 24th Jan, 2021

First bauxite shipment made from Amrun

Photo: Rio Tinto

Rio says the first shipment of bauxite has left its Amrun project in Far North Queensland, six weeks ahead of schedule.

Amrun is a $2.6 billion investment by Rio to replace production from the depleting East Weipa mine, and increase the miner’s annual bauxite exports by roughly 10 million tonnes.

Amrun is expected to produce 22.8 million tonnes annually of bauxite, a precursor to aluminium, by 2019.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said the project further strengthens Rio’s position as a leading supplier in the seabourne bauxite market.

“We have the largest bauxite resources in the industry and are geographically well positioned to supply China’s significant future important needs, as well as supporting our refinery and smelting operations in Australia and New Zealand,” Barrios said on December 3.

More than 80,000 tonnes of bauxite was loaded onto the RTM Weipa bound for Rio’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.

“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,” Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said.

The Amrun project incorporated the construction of a world-class bauxite mine, processing plant, and port facilities.

Located near Weipa in Far North Queensland, Amrun’s marine export facility includes a new 650-metre long access jetty and a 350-metre long loading wharf.

The project was designed by Jacobs and constructed by McConnell Dowell, with constructability oversight by Rio Tinto’s EPCM, Bechtel.

Earlier this year Rio Tinto said, “Our approach was to bring together all partners involved in the project and develop a method for building the wharf that would provide maximum safety for our people, have minimum impact on the environment, and leave a lasting legacy for our host communities.

“It reduced the time our people had to spend working at height and over water by 300,000 hours.”

Jacobs’ design concept saw a move away from traditional stick-built to a modularised approach, with the wharf split into seven ‘jackets’ incorporating dolphins and topside modules. This jacket design reduced the number of permanent piles required to be installed from 100 to 28, minimising the environmental impact to marine life in the area.

The jetty was constructed using McConnell Dowell’s cantilevering traveller frame with hydraulic piling gates. These temporary works were fabricated with efficiency and repeatability in mind, and productivity peaked at an impressive three days per bent. Access was incorporated into the traveller design, creating a safe work environment with no requirement for scaffold.