Shipping from new Far North Queensland mine to start in 2016
MINING giant Rio Tinto Alcan expects to spend nearly $528 million over three years in the Far North building its new $1.45 billion South of Embley bauxite mine near Weipa.
Key personnel have started meeting hundreds of businesses to discuss the provision of goods and services for construction which is expected to start next year, subject to government environmental approvals as well as the company's own board approval.
Construction has been estimated to take between 2.5 and three years, 24 hours a day with production and shipping of the first bauxite aiming to start in 2016.
South of Embley will extend the current Weipa mining operations for 40 years.
Construction involves two beneficiation plants separating the bauxite and waste materials, a diesel-fuelled power station, workshops, a warehouse, administration facilities, a sewage treatment plant, two new ferry and barge terminals, a roll-on/roll-off barge facility, a temporary construction camp with 2000 beds, a water supply dam and associated infrastructure, a new shiploading and tug-mooring port. About 950 people will be employed during the construction phase.
Project director Laurie Hicks said labour recruitment, accommodation, training, an administration headquarters, construction materials and pre-fabricated works and other goods and services were being considered in Cairns.
"Where several options exist, a bid process will be adopted which may include other local, regional, Australian or offshore suppliers," he said.
"While there will be no preferential treatment, options that promote local content, shorten supply chains, offer indigenous employment and deliver value to the project will be due consideration."
Mr Hicks said the Far North "will be the focus of the project's labour recruiting activities (professional, skilled and semi-skilled labour)."
He said Cairns was being assessed as a recruitment centre, hotels to accommodate new employees undertaking project orientation and/or staying overnight in transit on rotational leave, local skills training providers including TAFE and other private companies, the feasibility as a fly-in/fly-out hub and the establishment of a project services and support centre.
A freight hub could be based in Cairns and some of the pre-fabricated components built in Cairns and/or Mareeba.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Debbie Hancock said she had requested a forward procurement schedule for the South of Embley project and annual capital maintenance opportunities to match with member businesses.
Advance Cairns chief executive officer Stewart Christie said the group had been working with Cairns FIFO co-ordinator Jeremy Blockey and others had been "actively engaging" with Rio Tinto Alcan to recruitpersonnel from the Far North.
"We are very hopeful that both Rio Tinto Alcan and Bechtel will hire contractors, personnel and use suppliers from this region for the construction and ongoing operations of this project as the project evolves," he said.
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Jobs: David Lui, plant operator, with bauxite processing plant equipment at Lorim Point, Weipa. Picture: Christian Sprogoe Photography