Rio Tinto is looking to expedite studies into the bauxite mine South of Embley in Queensland, encouraged by improving conditions in aluminium markets — for which bauxite is the prime feedstock.
According to the article on the Sydney Morning Herald, Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive Sam Walsh has confirmed that the company was fast-tracking studies into the South of Embley project, which would effectively be an expansion of the existing bauxite mines in the region located on the north or east sides of the Embley River.
“The investment committee has approved the study fund for that project to accelerate that project by 12 months,” he said on Friday.
While the company has expedited the current set of studies and estimated the cost of the project to range between US$1.45 billion and US$2.5 billion, the on-site development is lagging behind the original schedule, with Rio previously hoping to formally approve it, and start construction in 2012.
The project, which would likely produce 22.5 million tonnes of bauxite in its initial stage, had become a bit of a political power struggle between the Gillard Labor government and the LNP state government in Queensland during much of 2012 and 2013, which has delayed its progress by several years.
The development of South of Embley and the proposed development of Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill and Sirius Resources’ nickel mine in WA would provide the Australian mining sector with a significant boost given the sharp reduction in the number of new projects in recent years.
Rio Tinto is expected to spend $US8 billion on capital projects in each of 2015 and 2016, while the other projects that are well placed to win funding in the near future include the proposed underground mine at the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia, as well as the plan to increase iron ore mine capacity in the Pilbara.