Local suppliers big winners with Amrun

The Amrun project is a USD $1.9B greenfield bauxite construction project, located between Weipa and Aurukun in Western Cape York, Far North Queensland. The new development will eventually replace the existing East Weipa mine centre and develop the high-quality bauxite reserves available south of the Weipa Peninsula. The project involves the staged increase in production of up to 50 million dry product tonnes per annum (mdptpa).

Rio Tinto appointed Bechtel Australia Pty Ltd as the project’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction Manager (EPCM). Construction of the project commenced in March 2016, with the first bauxite shipment expected in late 2018.

Rio Tinto has been mining and shipping bauxite from Weipa since 1963 and currently operates two bauxite mines in Western Cape York. The Amrun project is a major expansion, presenting a significant economic development opportunity for the region.

Rio Tinto was committed to provide ‘full, fair and reasonable’ access to project opportunities for local and Indigenous businesses and community members that could demonstrate they were commercially, technically and economically capable and competitive.

To meet this objective, Rio Tinto partnered with the Industry Capability Network (ICN) Queensland during the development and implementation of the project’s Australian Industry Participation Plan and Local Content Strategy.

From late 2015, ICN hosted a dedicated project page on ICN Gateway, which listed 80 project-related supply opportunities which included:

  • Truck dump station and run of mine storage
  • Ore beneficiation facility
  • Conveying and stockpiling facilities supported by rail mounted machines
  • Export port
  • Water supply dam and infrastructure
  • Tailings storage facility
  • Power generation facility
  • River facilities
  • Sealed access road connecting the Hey River Terminal to the Boyd Mine Infrastructure area
  • Initial haul roads network
  • Facility automation/control system
  • Mine infrastructure buildings
  • Temporary works required to support construction, and
  • Information systems and technology equipment, heavy mine equipment, other marine vessels and mine operations and equipment.

Businesses were encouraged to register their interest against either the full or partial scope EOIs and were required to complete initial screening questions relevant to commercial, health, safety and environment, and risk management.

The project received more than 1,350 full scope and 2,010 partial scope Gateway, which proved it was a valuable resource in helping to shape bid lists and inform Tier 1 contractors of local and Indigenous business capability.

Additionally, Rio Tinto engaged ICN Queensland to:

  • present at supplier briefings in Weipa, Cairns and Brisbane
  • produce a ‘Far North Queensland Indigenous Business Directory’ to promote indigenous business capability to Rio Tinto and its Tier 1 contractors
  • facilitate a supplier capability development program in collaboration with the Queensland Department of State
  • Development and Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships throughout far north Queensland, and
  • provide regular performance reporting regarding local and indigenous industry participation.

More than 1,100 Australian businesses – about 700 based in Queensland - have been engaged to supply goods and services to the project and its contractors.

"From the very beginning of the Amrun project we have been committed to prioritising Australian, and in particular Queensland companies for goods, services and expertise," Rio Tinto Amrun project director Marcia Hanrahan said.

"The engagement of more than 1,100 Australian businesses on the project so far has provided a significant economic boost with overall Australian commitments now at $2.1 billion including Queensland commitments of $1.5 billion.

"It is important to us that the benefits of our investment are returned to home soil and that we play an active role in developing sustainable Australian communities for the future."