Mining companies Glencore International, Rio Tinto Aluminium, Australian Indigenous Resources (AIR), Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) and Cape Alumina Consortium have been shortlisted to develop the A$25bn ($25.6bn) Aurukun bauxite deposit in Cape York in Queensland, Australia.
The five shortlisted companies will have to submit their detailed proposals for the mine to the Queensland Government for evaluation by mid-September, and the final decision on the preferred bidder is expected to be announced by the end of 2013.
Queensland Deputy Premier and the Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said that the development of the Aurukun bauxite deposit is vital for the creation of a better economic future for the Aurukun community, native titleholders and the state.
"We will see these benefits through mining jobs and improvements to infrastructure and further benefits through businesses that could be established in Aurukun to service the mine," Seeney said.
The Queensland government invited expressions of interest to develop the resource, which is estimated to have more than 300 million tonnes of bauxite resources, in November 2012.
Chalco entered into an agreement with the government to develop the resource in 2007 and planned to invest nearly $3bn in phase one of the programme.
The company had estimated alumina output of about 2 million tonnes per annum when production began and bauxite output of about 10 million tonnes.
However, in 2011 Chalco lost the deal when it could not meet a condition to build an alumina refinery in the state.
The current government scrapped that condition when it reopened Aurukun for development in 2012.
Seeney said that the government is planning to explore the option for both a large and small-scale development that may be able to coexist given the size of the Aurukun deposit.
Image: Aurukun has estimated deposits of more than 300 million tonnes of bauxite resources. Photo: Werner Schellmann.