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The Amrun bauxite project (formerly South of Embley Project) is located near Boyd Point, 40km south of the existing Weipa mine and 40km north of Aurukun in the Cape York Peninsula, Australia.
The project, which is 100% owned by Rio Tinto, involves the development of two mining areas namely the Boyd Point-Pera Head area, and the Norman Creek area as an extension to the former, and construction of associated processing, infrastructure and port facilities.
First production from the bauxite project is anticipated in the first half of 2019, while full production is scheduled for later that year. The mine is estimated to have a production life of approximately 40 years.
The project is designed for an initial output of 22.8 million tonnes a year (Mtpa), with an option for potential future expansions to reach a targeted production capacity of up to 50Mtpa. The estimated cost for the development of the project is $1.9bn.
The output from the project will mainly be distributed locally to Rio Tinto’s Yarwun Refinery and Queensland Alumina’s refinery in Gladstone, and exported primarily to China.
Benefits of the Amrun bauxite project
The project is expected to generate approximately 1,100 jobs during the peak construction phase and support the existing workforce of roughly 1,400 employees and contractors at Rio Tinto’s Cape York bauxite operations.
Direct economic benefits from the project include the annual generation of A$108m ($78m approximately) to Western Cape York’s economy, A$270m ($195m approximately) to the economy of the Far North Queensland region, A$1.5bn ($1bn approximately) to Queensland and A$2bn ($1.45bn approximately) to the national economy.
The output from the project will initially replace the production from the depleting East Weipa mine and the Andoom mine in the near future. The project will also increase the company’s bauxite exports from Cape York by approximately 10Mtpa.
Geology and reserves
The project area straddles the Weipa mining leases ML7024 and ML6024. Mining activities will be concentrated on the ML7024. The top of the bauxite strata is generally less than 1m below the ground surface and the average ore thickness across the project area is approximately 3.4m.
The project is located in the Carpentaria Basin, hosting marine and fluvial sediments. The top layered geological units include coastal dunes, estuarine and delta deposits, followed by the dominant ferruginous duricrust, including bauxite, derived from heavily laterised sandstones of the underlying bulimba formation.
Rio Tinto holds 1.49 billion tonnes of bauxite reserves and 1.91 billion tonnes of resources in the Cape York region.
Mining and processing at the Cape York Peninsula bauxite mine
The project will involve the development of a shallow open-pit using the existing fleet of front-end loaders and 180t dump trucks from the East Weipa site.
It envisages the construction of a wet beneficiation plant at the Boyd infrastructure area followed by another at the Norman Creek area.
Infrastructure for the Australian bauxite project
The port facilities will include a 568m-long approach jetty, a 342m wharf with two berths, ship-loader and departure areas located between the Boyd Point and Pera Head, outside the Port of Weipa port limits. The new port will be designed for an initial capacity of 30 million dry product tonnes a year (Mdptpa) , with a provision for expansion to 63Mdptpa in the future.
Other major mine infrastructure will include a water supply dam, tailings storage facilities, haul roads connecting the processing plant and the deposits, and a ferry terminal on the Hey River to transport workers from Weipa to the mine.
Power requirements will be met by a diesel-fuelled power station with associated transmission lines, located at the Boyd infrastructure area. The power station would be expanded in several stages.
Buildings at the site will house workshops, a warehouse, administration facilities, and a temporary accommodation camp for 630 people.
Ancillary infrastructure will include sewage treatment plants, general waste disposal areas, diesel storage facilities and telecommunications facilities.
Key players involved
The engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contractor for the project is Bechtel.
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