National Pump and energy

BAUXITE

  • Bauxite
  • Mines Producing Bauxite

Also Known As : Aluminium - Alumina - Cliachite

At the present time there are five bauxite mines operating in Australia feeding seven refineries producing alumina. The alumina from these refineries is then sent to one of six smelters which create the final product, aluminium, which is exported around the world. According to the 'AAC Sustainability Report 2011' Australia produced 71.5 million tonnes of bauxite in 2010 making it the world's largest producer of the product.

The aluminium industry in Australia sets an example in the way it is so highly integrated in the process of mining, refining, smelting and semi-fabrication of the final product. This means the industry is able to provide employment for around 16,700 people in the mining of bauxite and the refinery and smelting stages that follow. To this end some of the world's largest mining companies are involved, such as: Rio Tinto at Weipa in Queensland Alcoa with two Bauxite mines in Western Australia. One at Willowdale and the other at Huntly Pacific Aluminium at Gove in Northern Territory and BHP with the Worsley Alumina mine at Boddington in Western Australia The Weipa and Gove mines are rated as having the highest grade bauxite deposits in the world with near 50 percent alumina. On the other hand the Darling Range deposits in Western Australia are low grade with about 30 percent alumina as is the Mitchell Plateau deposit yet to be developed.

A recognised disadvantage with most bauxite deposits in Australia is they have a high silica component. This adds to the cost of refining. To balance this disadvantage most of our bauxite deposits are rather shallow which makes mining easy. Uses of Aluminium Following the smelting of aluminium from alumina it finds use in many areas such as:

Packaging – Probably the common use of aluminium, especially in drink cans; thermos; lids; storage boxes; trays; wrapping foils and bottle caps.

Motor cars – wheels; gear box housings;engine blocks; suspension parts; bonnets; boots; carburettors; handles; logos; alternator housings; fan parts.

Around the house – kitchen utensils; window frames; food packaging; curtain bars; door knobs, golf clubs; outdoor and indoor furniture; tennis racquets; refrigerators; washing machines; kettles; saucepans.

Aluminium is also widely used in car bodies, railway and bus carriages, boats and ships, fencing, roofing and outside wall cladding. High Electricity Costs Associated With Aluminium Production One of the biggest expenses associated with producing aluminium is the amount of electricity used in the process. This accounts for up to 25 or 30 percent of the cost. Miners are willing to ship their product long distances from their mine sites to take advantage of deals done with various state governments to obtain cheaper electricity, in return for employment opportunities. However, the industry remains quite sensitive to this cost and has, for this reason, been active in developing Australian policy in advancing greenhouse abatement concerns.

The industry is represented on the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Mining Responsibly Bauxite miners in Australia are proud of the fact they rehabilitate old mining areas as fast as they develop new ones, by doing this they consider themselves as being 'land area footprint neutral.' This has been achieved by being environmentally conscious throughout all their exploration and mining activities and accepting the fact that bauxite mining is a temporary land use operation. It therefore must not compromise land use over the longer term.

Bauxite mining globally only disturbs comparatively small areas of land when compared with other types of surface mining operations. The industry is conscious of the importance of keeping the balance of rehabilitating land as fast as they mine it.

Australian Mines that produce Bauxite

Gove ( NT )

Up to 600 workers employed at the Gove bauxite refinery in the Northern Territory face an uncertain future as Pacific Aluminium suspends alumina production.

Ely ( QLD )

The Ely Alcan Queensland Pty Ltd agreement at the Weipa bauxite mine is due to expire in 2041 but an option will give it a further 21 years extension.

Skardon River ( QLD )

Gulf Alumina acquired 100 percent of the Skardon River tenement in 2011 from its koalin mining joint partner to develop the mining of bauxite at the site

Weipa ( QLD )

The Weipa bauxite mine on the western side of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland is both owned and operated by Rio Tinto Alcan.

Huntly ( WA )

The Huntly mine in Western Australia is the largest bauxite mine in the world currently producing about 23 million tonnes of bauxite annually.

Willowdale ( WA )

The Willowdale bauxite mine that commenced production in 1984 still processes 10 million tonnes of bauxite a year at the nearby Wagerup Refinery.

Worsley ( WA )

The Worsley bauxite mine and alumina refinery in South West Western Australia employs more than 1,800 people and produces 4.6 million tonnes of alumina annually.

South Aurukun ( QLD )

The South Aurukun bauxite tenements on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland are held by Gulf Alumina.

Marchinbar Island ( NSW )

The Marchinbar Island bauxite deposit in far north Northern Territory could be mined to satisfy a growing demand from China in the near future.

Kwinana Refinery ( WA )

The Kwinana refinery in WA employs around 1,000 direct employees with 60 percent living in the nearby towns of Rockingham, Cockburn and Kwinana.

Wagerup Refinery ( WA )

The Alcoa owned Wagerup alumina refinery in W.A. has received governmental approval to lift alumina production from 2.6 to 2.65 million tonnes annually.

Pinjarra Alumina Refinery ( WA )

The Pinjarra alumina refinery, near Mandurah south of Perth, is an important part of Alcoa's three refinery system in Western Australia.

Portland Aluminium Smelter ( VIC )

The Portland Aluminium smelter in western Victoria, a joint venture operation between Alcoa, CITIC and Marubeni, caters solely to the Asian market.

Felicitas ( WA )

The Felicitas bauxite project in Western Australia contains a bauxite resource of 220 million tonnes that will give it a life of mine of 25 years

South Of Embley ( QLD )

Despite Rio Tinto placing its South of Embley bauxite project in Cape York, Queensland, on hold for 18 months it still considers it a 'good project.'

Bauxite Hills ( QLD )

The Bauxite Hills Project on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland is hoping to take advantage of an expected increase in the demand for Alumina.

Bald Hill ( TAS )

Australian Bauxite Limited's Bald Hill mine, in Tasmania, is to start production in December, 2014. It is the first new bauxite mine in Australia, for over 35 years.

Urquhart Point ( QLD )

The Urquhart Point Heavy Mineral Sands Project in Cape York in Far North Queensland is expected to begin production in mid-2015.

Amrun ( QLD )

The Amrun bauxite project in far north Queensland, that was previously known as the 'South of Embley' project has been approved for development and expected to be in production by 2019.

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