Rio Tinto's Queensland bauxite mine South of Embley

Rio Tinto’s Queensland bauxite mine South of Embley fast-tracked

Rio Tinto fast-tracks its Nth Qld bauxite mining projects withthousands of new jobs on the horizon

Rio Tintois no stranger to mining operations in Queensland, especially forit’s development of far north Queensland bauxite mines.

The most famous of Rio Tinto mines in Queensland is their Weipa bauxite mine and rumoured spending spree by Rio’s chief executive could herald a new era of mining jobs.

Mining investment had been put on hold during the early part of 2013 as the major mining companies went back to the drawing board and looked at its investment strategy. Disappointment echoed throughout the industry as mining jobs fell away and investment dollars never saw daylight.

“trickles of investment capital being released into the industry”

Twelve months on, the Australian mining industry is still cautious about future investment, although we are beginning to see a trickle of investment capital being released into the industry. Just last week BHP announced they were planning to test a new production plant at their South Australian Olympic Dam project and now Rio Tinto are waking up their investment plans.

Studies into the feasibility of the South of Embley projectare being fast-tracked. Located close to Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations on the Gulf of Carpentaria, South of Embley would be an expansion of the current bauxite mines which are located on the north and east sides of the Embley river.

South of Embley project

The South of Embley project involves a stepped increase in production to somewhere in the region of 50 million tonnes per annum. The project means the construction of new mining areas, with new infrastructure including beneficiation plants, a power station, workshops, warehouses, barge and ferry facilities, ship loading facilities, and access road.

“1200 workers expected when construction begins”

It’s expected that a construction workforce of about 1200 will be accommodated in a temporary construction village on site. Once the project becomes operational, the entire workforce will BIBO (bus and ferry ) daily to the mine.

Bauxite demand looks set to soar

Considering the global demand for aluminium is increasing, of which bauxite is a prime ingredient, Rio Tinto have taken the opportunity to take advantage of improve conditions in the global market.

Australia is the world’s largest producer of bauxite, representing 30% of global production a couple of years ago and Rio Tinto’s Weipa mining operations have bauxite resources of over 3000 million tonnes. Ore grades are high at an average of between 49 and 53 percent and are amongst the world’s highest grade deposits.


The Rio Tinto management team are pretty psyched about the whole project and already approval has been given to ramp up the study.

$US1.45 billion – $US2.5 billion investment in Australia

This is going to be a big project for Queensland. Initial cost estimates to develop the mine have come in around $US1.45 billionto $US2.5 billion, with an expected production tonnage of some 22.5 million in the initial stages.

“another bonus for Queenslanders”

The development of the South of Embley project is another bonus for Queenslanders and indeed the wholeAustralian mining sector, which has witnessed a reduction in the number of new projects over the past 12-16 months.

The South of Embley project is looking very good and already we can see flickers of mining activity beginning to fire up right across the Australian landscape. We have the Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia that has been coming out of the ground over the past 12 months under the guidance of Gina Rinehart`s Roy Hill.

“flickers of mining activity beginning to fire up”

Then we have the Sirius Resources proposed nickel mine in Western Australia and not forgetting the Galilee Basin coal projects spearheaded by India’s biggest energy and power company Adani and GVK (Galilee Basin coal projects). The Galilee Basin coal mining developments themselves have the potential to create thousands of ongoing mining jobs in Queensland for the next 50 – 70 years.

The mining investment pipeline does not appear to be entirely empty does it?

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