Construction jobs always involve a few risks, but for the workers who built Rio Tinto’s new $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite mine on Cape York, some of the safety procedures were particularly unique.
The advice to workers was quite snappy, much like the risk sometimes observed in the water or on the riverbanks in the area: always keep at least six metres from the water’s edge, always face the water when near it, and, of course, always carry a big stick.
Because a potential threat, which is also spelt out in large signs at a ferry terminal Amrun mine workers must travel through en-route to work, is of a potential crocodile attack.
Fortunately for both Rio and its workers, no attacks occurred during the mine’s three-year construction phase, and none have occurred in its early months of operation, but sometimes mine workers see the reptiles as they travel along the Embley River bound for the mine.
Amrun mines the vast bauxite reserves first discovered on Cape York in 1955 by geologist Harry Evans, who was being guided by local Aboriginal man George Wilson (Piramu). Bauxite is a key ingredient in the manufacture of aluminium. The mine is operating under a 40-year lease, but Rio chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said on Friday that there was such a significant reserve in the area that it could potentially last for decades beyond that.
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