Mining giant Rio Tinto has given the nod to its massive $US1.9 billion ($A2.63 billion) South of Embley bauxite expansion project in northern Queensland. Rio said the long-awaited approval would boost the company’s annual bauxite exports from Cape York by around 10 million tonnes per year as conditions in aluminium markets improve.
The global miner plans to initially produce 22.8 million tonnes of bauxite per year from 2019, replacing production from the depleting East Weipa mine 40 kilometres away. The project gives Rio the option of expanding production to 50 million tonnes a year in the future.
Rio has also changed the name of the mine to the Aboriginal word Amrun, a traditional indigenous name for the area. The expansion project involves construction of a bauxite mine as well as processing and port facilities on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.
Chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio was establishing Cape York bauxite as the product of choice for the Chinese seaborne market in its biggest single investment this year.
“Amrun will be significant in helping to meet growing bauxite demand from China,” Mr Walsh said in a statement. He said Amrun was one of the highest quality bauxite projects in the world.
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