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Latest News

Rio Tinto has completed commissioning of the $2.6 billion Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula, with an official opening today to mark the achievement.

The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by about 10 million tonnes.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the new mine would help keep Australia in the world’s No. 1 position in the production of bauxite and exports of aluminium.

“The higher-grade bauxite being mined at Amrun is becoming scarcer around the world, and at the same time, world consumption of alumina is forecast to escalate in coming years,” Mr Canavan said.

“These factors will underpin the future success of the operation, which is expected to have a 50-year life span.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Amrun had secured 2000 ongoing jobs for the Cape, including 349 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, since the project started in late 2015 – jobs for Weipa and also at Rio Tinto’s Gladstone refinery.

Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said “Amrun was completed early and under budget, demonstrating Rio Tinto’s productivity and innovation capabilities. By applying fresh thinking we also delivered safety, environmental, cost and timing benefits.


“Amrun will provide jobs, support businesses and contribute to growth in the region for the next 50 years, building on $A2.2 billion of contracts with local, State and national businesses [during construction].”

In an industry first, Amrun’s 1km-long export facility was built in modules off-site and then brought to Amrun and connected. This reduced over-water construction and painting in the culturally significant and environmentally sensitive region and reduced construction time by a year. It also increased safety by removing the need for 300,000 work hours that would have been spent at height and over water.

A-grade achievement for Rio Tinto
Accommodation camps are being set up at key sites as more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors push ahead with efforts to repair the Mount Isa Line railway track.

Queensland Rail chief executive officer Nick Easy said the repairs – spearheaded by a project taskforce – were on schedule, with good progress continuing to be made.

“On Monday (4 March) our crews deemed the Richmond to Hughenden section open for all rail traffic, following final repairs to 50 damaged sites spanning 100km,” Mr Easy said.

“We are now working closely with our freight operators and their customers on options to restore services through this section and opportunities for freight to be loaded on and off trains at both Richmond and Hughenden.

“We will be continuing to work with our freight operators and their customers over the coming week to finalise these plans.”

Mr Easy said ongoing repair and recovery works for the remaining damaged section between Richmond and Cloncurry were on track, with crews progressively working from both east and west.

“We remain on track to reopen the entire Mount Isa Line between late-April and Mid-May, subject to construction and weather conditions.

“We are monitoring weather forecasts daily and are working with our crews to plan around the expected wet weather next week.”

Mr Easy said with more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors to be mobilised to Julia Creek and Richmond to accelerate the repair and recovery work, Queensland Rail had partnered with the Department of Public Works and Housing to establish workers camps at Richmond and Julia Creek.

“A 60-bed camp is being established in Richmond to accommodate employees and contractors working on the recovery and another 120-bed camp will also be set up in Julia Creek to accommodate recovery works at Nelia,” Mr Easy said.

“Accommodation presented a significant challenge for the recovery work, but now that a solution has been identified and is being implemented, the Taskforce is confident it can mobilise all of the crews and contractors required to accelerate the recovery program.

“Local contractors have been engaged to transport mobile, stackable buildings on trailers which will house workers unable to be accommodated in local motels and caravan parks and local suppliers in each town will also be hired to provide food, cleaning and supplies to the camps.

“The camps are expected to be operational within the next two weeks, if not earlier.”


Repairs on track as hundreds work on Mount Isa Line
The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will provide a $50 million loan to upgrade the Townsville Airport.

More  than 200 local jobs, extra flights and greater tourism activity are  expected to flow from the investment.

The work is expected to be completed by mid-2021

Minister  for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan described the move as a vote of confidence from the Federal Government on Townsville’s bright future, despite the tough past month for the town.

“The Federal Government will help Townsville rebuild but we are also backing it to bounce back even stronger,” he said.

The NAIF loan will support airport owner Queensland Airports Limited’s “Project Alive” – an $80 million project in total.

The last significant terminal upgrade occurred in 2003 and since then the  airport’s passenger movements have grown by 84 per cent.

The planned upgrade includes reconfiguration of the terminal building and infrastructure upgrades including covered walkways to the long-term car park, the replacement of the terminal roof and sewer improvements.

Airport upgrade attracts $50m NAIF backing
Construction is expected to start on site in early May for a new multi-user cargo terminal at Berth 4 at Port of Townsville.

Port of Townsville Limited sought tender submissions for the project in February.

A spokeswoman said those submissions were being assessed and the contract was expected to be awarded by the end of the month.

POTL general manager infrastructure Kim Gebers has described the project as critical in supporting and developing cargo handling efficiency so the port provides a reliable hub for North Queensland trade.

The Berth 4 cargo terminal project will include construction of pavements, lighting, fencing, wash bay, amenities, gatehouse, utilities and car parking over a site of about 1.8ha.

A level crossing is also included in the construction works to allow direct access to Berth 4 from the cargo terminal site.

Townsville cargo terminal project advances

One of the world’s largest automobile roll-on roll-off (RORO) vessels is due to berth at the Port of Mackay this weekend.

The Höegh Trapper is carrying new and used mining vehicles and machinery destined for the Bowen Basin.

At almost 200m long and with the capacity to carry up to 8,500 cars, the Höegh Trapper will be the third Höegh RoRo vessel to visit the Port of Mackay in the past six months.

North Queensland Bulk Ports said Höegh had committed a fourth RoRo vessel to berth at the Port of Mackay in April, demonstrating the international shipping company’s satisfaction with the port’s facilities and associated logistics.

NQBP chief executive officer Nicolas Fertin said the organisation was committed to investing in and upgrading its port facilities to attract new trade opportunities.

“In the past 18 months, we have invested almost $10 million in infrastructure upgrades at the Port of Mackay,” Mr Fertin said.


“This has enabled us to attract large, international RoRo vessels to the port, which then has a flow-on effect for the community. Large mining equipment can now be shipped directly to the region and assembled locally, providing the opportunity for local jobs growth.”


Significantly, this is the first time that the Port of Mackay will facilitate an exchange of import, export and coastal cargoes at the one time.


Norwegian-based Höegh Autoliners has increased its direct shipping service to Australia and New Zealand from the USA and Mexico, providing Mackay and the Bowen Basin with a direct link to North American mining equipment manufacturers.

"Our New Horizon class vessels are designed with this kind of over-dimensional cargo in mind, and it is great to have an opportunity to serve our customers better by landing their cargo closer to its final destination," Höegh’s Australian representative Brendan Wallis said. 

Super-sized vessel due in Mackay

The Federal Government has announced the awarding of the tender for the business case for Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline Extension Project in Townsville.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the business case, awarded to multi-national professional services company Jacobs, was crucial to the project progressing.

“Appointing Jacobs demonstrates the Government’s commitment to securing Townsville’s water supply,” Mr Morrison said.

“The Haughton Pipeline Extension Project is part of the Townsville City Deal, which is a 15-year commitment between the Australian and Queensland governments and the Townsville City Council to transform Townsville’s economy and city centre.

“The Townsville Water Security Taskforce, established under the deal, identified the need for this project and the Australian Government has delivered by committing funding towards a comprehensive business case and $195 million towards construction of Stage 2.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said the project would secure the Townsville region’s future water security. 

“The business case will ensure value for taxpayers' money and determine the precise scope of the project, which includes construction of a new pipeline from the Haughton Pump Station to the Burdekin River,” Mr McCormack said.

“Continuing the pipeline construction provides Townsville with a backup supply of water by taking water from the Burdekin Water Supply Scheme and topping up the levels in the Ross River Dam during periods of low rainfall.

"Stage 2 of the extension project will go a long way in ensuring long-term water security for the city.”  

Jacobs wins tender for pipeline Stage 2 business case