Bauxite mine bid rejected by Queensland government

March 12, 2014

Glencore Xstrata’s proposal to mine bauxite in Queensland, Australia was rejected by state officials who said the government was not satisfied that the project could be developed quickly enough to benefit the local community, Reuters reported.

The Aurkun deposit was opened to bidding in late 2012 with five companies showing interest. Glencore and Australian Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd (AIR) submitted final bids for the area, however, the state rejected Glencore Xstrata’s saying, "After carefully considering the proposals, the government is not satisfied that either bid ... could deliver what the government had hoped for in a timely manner," Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney said in a statement.

The state remains open to proposals that would open a mine "in a timely fashion" and "for the benefit of the local community," he said, without specifying how quickly it wants a mine developed.

Bauxite prices have improved on the back of a recent ban on exports from Indonesia, the main supplier to top aluminium producer China, but the Aurukun bid came at a time when most miners, facing weaker commodity prices, had retreated from building any mines from scratch.

The Aurukun deposit, where reserves could support production of 6.5 Mt/a or the equivalent of nearly 10 percent of China's bauxite imports in 2013, has long been stuck on the drawing board. It was held until 2004 by Alcan of Canada, which failed to develop it over 29 years.

It was then awarded to Aluminium Corp of China (Chalco), which planned to develop the mine as part of a $2.5 billion alumina and aluminium project, but gave it up after the global financial crisis spread to commodities markets.

Aurukun is mainly an Aboriginal community of about 1,000 people in the remote area of Cape York, near similar deposits mined by Rio Tinto.


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