23 May 2012
Rio Tinto Alcan welcomes state environmental report
Rio Tinto Alcan today welcomed the release of the Queensland Coordinator-General's Report on the South of Embley Project to extend bauxite mining near Weipa, on Queensland's Western Cape York Peninsula.
The Project will see Rio Tinto Alcan extend bauxite mining on an existing mining lease south of its current operations near Weipa and build new infrastructure including a power station, processing plant, warehouses, workshops, barge and ferry facilities and ship loading facilities.
Rio Tinto Alcan president and chief executive officer, Bauxite and Alumina, Pat Fiore said today's release of the Queensland Coordinator-General's Report on the South of Embley Project was a significant milestone for the company and the Queensland community.
"The Weipa mine is a cornerstone for the company's global aluminium business," Mr Fiore said.
"If approved, the $1 billion-plus Project will underpin the continued operation of Rio Tinto Alcan's alumina refinery operations in Gladstone, supporting the current expansion of our Yarwun alumina refinery as well as provide the ability to substantially grow our bauxite export capability.
"The Project will extend the life of the Weipa bauxite mining operations - which has an Indigenous workforce of more than 25 per cent - by about 40 years.
"This means the mining operations will continue to generate employment and other economic benefits not only for the Western Cape, but for the broader Queensland community as well."
Mr Fiore said the Project's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), evaluated by the Co-ordinator-General's report released today, included significant input from the Traditional Owners, and was developed following consultation with a wide range of experts.
"While our EIS already outlines a comprehensive package of measures to mitigate environmental and social impacts, we are comfortable with the additional measures detailed in the Coordinator-General's Report."
Mr Fiore said the Queensland Government report came after extensive community and stakeholder consultation.
"I would like to thank the hundreds of community members who have taken the time to speak to us about the Project. I would particularly like to thank the Traditional Owners of the region, and the broader Western Cape community for their invaluable input."
Mr Fiore said Rio Tinto Alcan would continue to work with all stakeholders throughout the life of the Project.
He said the company intends to be in a position to commence construction as soon as Commonwealth approval and other relevant permits and authorities are received. In addition, the usual Rio Tinto internal approvals will also be required.
The Commonwealth approvals process is continuing.
"The project will allow Rio Tinto Alcan to continue providing jobs and other opportunities for the people of the Western Cape and far north Queensland for generations to come. An average of 950 workers will be required for construction. During operation, employee numbers will range up to 1200 depending on production rates," Mr Fiore said.
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and New York Stock Exchange listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, thermal and metallurgical coal, uranium, gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide and salt) and iron ore. Activities span the world and are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.
About Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa
The Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa operations employ about 1000 full time employees, and in 2011 produced 20.7 million dry product tonnes of bauxite.There are more than 275 Indigenous employees at the operation, more than 25 per cent of the workforce.
Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa mining leases are on Aboriginal land and neighbour the communities of Aurukun, Mapoon, Napranum and Weipa. Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa supports Native Title rights and undertakes its mining operations in consultation with the Traditional Owners of the region, ensuring that obligations established in land use agreements can be met.
For further information, please contact:
Rio Tinto Alcan
Media and Communication manager
Office: +61 (0) 7 3625 4445
Mobile: +61 (0) 407 211 900
Principal advisor, Media Relations
Office: +61 (0) 3 9283 3612
Mobile: +61 (0) 419 103 454
Follow @riotinto on Twitter
High resolution photographs and media pack available at: www.riotinto.com/media