Canada-based bauxite mining company Rio Tinto Alcan has released the draft Commonwealth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its South of Embley Project in Australia.

The company had undertaken a feasibility study to extend its Weipa bauxite mine near the Embley River and secured approval for the project in May 2012 from the Queensland Coordinator-General.

Rio Tinto Alcan president and CEO Pat Fiore noted that the EIS comprehensively describes the potential social, economic and environmental impacts associated with the project and outlines how existing bauxite resources can be sustainably developed while safeguarding the Cape and the Great Barrier Reef.

"The project does not substantially change the number of ships traversing the Reef and the EIS shows that potential impacts on the environment can be managed," Fiore said.

Earlier, the Commonwealth Environment Minister had sought to include an assessment of shipping through the Great Barrier Reef into the project’s EIS.

"The strict measures that are used for existing Weipa bauxite shipping activities, such as piloting for ships, would continue to be used for project-related shipping," continued Fiore.

Fiore further added that the $1bn project will reinforce the continued operation of the firm’s Gladstone refinery operations and accelerates the $2.5bn expansion of Yarwun, as well as enhance bauxite export capability.

Fiore said: "We are working closely with Traditional Owners to ensure the prosperity resulting from mining activities on the Western Cape continues to be shared."

Members of the community can review and comment on the EIS between 22 November and 19 December 2012.

Construction of the project is scheduled to begin next year, and includes new mining areas, construction of new infrastructure and an access road, subject to regulatory and internal approvals.