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Rio Tinto Yarwun Refinery Expansion Making Progress (posted 3/24/08)

March 24, 2008
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According to Rio Tinto Alcan, the company is firmly positioned to meet the growing global demand for alumina.

According to Rio Tinto Alcan, it is firmly positioned to meet the growing global demand for alumina. The company’s Yarwun, Australia, alumina refinery achieved record performance in November and December, and significant progress is being made on the refinery expansion project there.

Expansion work on the Yarwun alumina refinery, located near Gladstone, Queensland, is progressing on budget and is on track for its first shipment of alumina in the second half of 2010. The $1.8 billion project will more than double the refinery’s annual production, increasing output from 1.4 million tonnes to 3.4 million tonnes by 2011. The expansion includes a gas-based 160 MW cogeneration plant, which will reduce CO2 emissions per tonne of alumina by 35% relative to coal. On completion, the expanded refinery will reportedly product about 4% of the total global alumina demand.

“In the eight months since the expansion project began, engineering is approaching 25% completion with over $900 million committed by the end of February 2008,” said Keith Nugent, project director. “There have been no lost time injuries on the project, with more than 400,000 hours worked (as of February 29, 2008) and a current workforce of just over 300 on site. We expect to commence our first major concrete pour at the end of March 2008.”

“Since implementing a number of process enhancements in October 2007, the plant has delivered record operation performance, and further improvements have been identified to exceed nameplate capacity in 2008,” said Alistair Field, chief operating officer – Pacific, Bauxite and Alumina. “Rio Tinto has a defined pathway to become the largest producer of alumina, and we will pursue this while retaining our focus on excellence in health, safety and environmental performance.”

Visit www.riotinto.com for more information.

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