Nearest Landmark: WEIPA
Latitude: 12° 40' (South)
Longitude: 141° 52' (East)
Rio Tinto - 100%
|Operator||Rio Tinto Alcan|
Bauxite - 20.7 Mt in 2011
|Deposit Type||Bauxite (Residual)|
|Reserves & Resources||
Bauxite - 1,554 Mt (proven and probable, Dec 31, 2011)
|Mining Method||Open pit|
|Mining Equipment||Truck & shovel|
P O Box 652
Last updated: August 13, 2012
The mine is located on a lease covering 640,000 acres near Weipa in Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Operations commenced in 1963.
Commercial quantities of bauxite were discovered on Aboriginal lands at Weipa in western Cape York in 1955. The discovery was made by geologist Harry Evans who was assisted by George Wilson (Piiramu), Old Matthew (Wakmatha) and Lea Wassell. In 1961, six years after Evans' discovery, bauxite mining began on Cape York Peninsula. 1964 was the first year of commercial production with 453,365 tonnes of bauxite mined and shipped. Forty seven years later, in 2011, this annual production figure had increased to 20.7 million dry product tonnes (Mdpt). Rio Tinto interest increased from 72.4% to 100% in 2000.
In 2008 Rio Tinto Alcan began a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment to extend the Weipa mine in an area south of the Embley River. This project would allow for staged increases in production to as much as 36 million dry product tonnes per year and provide quality bauxite to the group’s regional refineries and export markets. Approval to proceed with the project is expected in 2012, depending on regulatory and internal conditions.
The existing fleet of five post-Panamax bauxite carriers continue to provide competitive and reliable delivery of bauxite from Weipa to Rio's refineries at Gladstone, Queensland.
The mine is located on a lease covering 640,000 acres near Weipa in Queensland, Cape York Peninsula, Australia.
The Queensland Government Comalco (ML704) lease expires in 2041 with an option of 21 year extension, then two years’ notice of termination; the Ely Alcan Queensland Pty. Limited Agreement Act 1965 (ML7301) expires in 2048 with 21 year right of renewal with a two year notice period.
Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state of Australia, located in the northeast of the country. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean.
Climate is influenced by monsoons.
The Weipa bauxites overlie Cretaceous marine sediments and occurr on a plateau that is a modified remnant of a Cretaceous regression surface located on the western of the Cape York Peninsula.
The bauxite forms a 3 m to 12 m layer that is being uniformly distributed over the western part of the Weipa Plateau. Bauxite ore reserves at Weipa extend over 3,860 square kilometers. The bauxites are overlain by locally derived sediments (red soils) and are underlain by laterites.
Rio Tinto Alcan is conducting a feasibility study to extend its Weipa bauxite mine in an area south of the Embley River. The South of Embley project would extend the Weipa mine life by approximately 40 years depending on production rates.
The project will progressively replace depleted bauxite reserves at the East Weipa and Andoom mining areas, maintain continuity of supply to Rio Tinto Alan's two Gladstone alumina refineries, and continue to generate employment and other economic benefits on the Western Cape.
The bauxites occur as flat lying deposits ranging in thickness from 3 to 30 feet. Kaolin occurs 13 to 16 feet below the bauxite. There also a kaolin processing plant which produces paper quality kaolin at a rated capacity of 110,000 tons-per-year.
In 2004 a mine expansion was completed at Weipa that lifted annual capacity to 21.5 million tonnes. Mining commenced on the adjacent Ely mining lease in 2006, in accordance with the 1998 agreement with Alcan (first ore extracted at Ely in 2007). A second shiploader that increases the shipping capability was commissioned in 2006 at Weipa.
The South of Embley project includes new mining areas, construction of new infrastructure including beneficiation plants, power station, warehouses, workshops, barge and ferry facilities, ship loading facilities, and an access road. Construction could start in 2012, depending on regulatory and internal approvals.
A construction workforce will be accommodated in a temporary construction village on site and, once operational, employees would commute daily to the mine, via a ferry and bus service.
Bauxite is shipped to Gladstone in Queensland for further refining - the final product is alumina.
Power comes from a 36MW onsite generator. A new power station was commisiioned in 2006.
Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa operates under two individual land use agreements - the Western Cape Communities Coexistence Agreement (WCCCA) and the Ely Bauxite Mining Project Agreement (EBMPA). These agreements provide economic, education and employment benefits as well as cultural heritage support and formal consultation processes between the company and Traditional Owners.
The Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement, an Indigenous Land Use Agreement, was signed in 2001