Rio Tinto will spend $US1.9 billion ($2.6 billion) growing its exposure to the increasingly lucrative bauxite trade after announcing a redesigned expansion of a massive project in Queensland on Friday afternoon.
Known as the South of Embley project, the expansion has been expected for three successive years, but had so far been deferred by the Rio board.
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh told Fairfax Media on Friday that the project would have been difficult to approve if it were still in the scope put before the board in 2013, and praised his team for redesigning the project, which has been renamed “Amrun” in a mark of respect to the local indigenous people.
“Amrun is one of the highest quality bauxite projects in the world. It is a tier one asset that will deliver significant benefits to all our stakeholders,” said Mr Sam Walsh.
The project was approved by federal environment regulators in May 2013, and was originally expected to be exporting at 22 million tonnes per year by 2015. But reduced capital spending and extra studies saw approval of the project deferred until now.
“This long-life, low-cost, expandable asset offers a wide variety of development options and pathways over the coming decades. We are establishing Cape York bauxite as the product of choice for the Chinese seaborne market with consistent quality, security of supply and strong technical marketing support,” Mr Walsh said.
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