08 July 2011

Weipa's South of Embley project reaches Environmental Impact Statement milestone

Rio Tinto Alcan welcomes the Queensland Government's release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a bauxite mining project that will underpin the long-term future of its Weipa operations in Cape York Peninsula.

The South of Embley project will see Rio Tinto Alcan extend bauxite mining on an existing mining lease south of its current operations near Weipa and build new infrastructure including a power station, processing plant, warehouses, workshops, barge and ferry facilities and ship loading facilities.

Pat Fiore, president and chief executive officer, Bauxite and Alumina, Rio Tinto Alcan, said the Weipa mine is a cornerstone of the company's global aluminium business, supplying the Yarwun and Queensland Alumina Limited alumina refineries in Gladstone.

"If approved, the $1 billion-plus project will underpin the continued operation of Rio Tinto Alcan's alumina refinery operations in Queensland, supporting the current expansion of our Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone and provide for future growth in our business," Mr. Fiore said. "The project will extend the life of bauxite mining operations in the region by about 40 years and continue to generate employment and other economic benefits on the Western Cape."
 
Members of the community are invited to review the EIS, which describes the environmental, social and economic benefits and impacts of the project and proposes measures to mitigate adverse impacts.

"The EIS includes significant input from the Traditional Owners, and was developed following consultation with a wide range of experts including environmental scientists," Mr. Fiore said.

An EIS summary document has been produced to help interested stakeholders understand the key findings and proposed mitigation strategies detailed in the full document.

The community is invited to review and comment on the EIS from 1 August to 12 September. The EIS will be on display in Weipa, Napranum, Aurukun, Mapoon, Bamaga, Cooktown, Cairns, Brisbane and Canberra, and will be made available on the Rio Tinto Alcan website (please click here).

Rio Tinto Alcan will also hold a series of information sessions in the Western Cape to present details about the project and the EIS findings.

Community members can contact the project team via the freecall number 1800 308 938 or email external.affairs@riotinto.com with any specific questions or concerns.
 
"We strongly urge community members and other regional stakeholders to review the EIS and make use of the information sessions to learn more about the project," Mr. Fiore said. "The South of Embley Project not only underpins Rio Tinto Alcan's future in Queensland but is also a very significant development for everyone who lives and works on the Western Cape."

The current Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa operations employ approximately 871 full time employees, and in 2010 produced 18.6 million dry product tonnes of bauxite.

Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa mining leases are on Aboriginal land and neighbour the communities of Aurukun, Mapoon, Napranum and Weipa. Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa supports Native Title rights and undertakes its mining operations in consultation with the Traditional Owners of the region, ensuring that obligations established in land use agreements can be met.

Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa operates under two Indigenous agreements - the Western Cape Communities Co-existence 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 the Indigenous people of the region.

About Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.

For further information, please contact:

Media Relations, Rio Tinto Alcan, Australia
Ian McGoldrick
Tel.: +61 (0) 7 3867 1665

Media Relations, Rio Tinto
Karen Halbert
Tel.: +61 (0) 3 9283 3627