Our First Wagerup Refinery Manager Remembers ...
New Refinery: New Opportunities
Malcolm Wills was the first manager of the Wagerup refinery and the first Australian manager to commission and run an Alcoa alumina refinery - all other Australian Alcoa operations have been commissioned by expatriate Americans.

Malcolm is now retired from full-time work and lives in Mandurah, Western Australia. Here, he recalls the early days of the refinery:

“Wagerup was unique in that all employees were multi-skilled and could carry out all tasks within their respective areas. We were fortunate in being able to recruit many good people.

Construction was difficult in the early stages due to protests at the site by the campaign to save native forests.

Construction was almost complete in the early 1980s when a correction to the world economy resulted in the decision in 1983 to delay further spending on the project and many employees were relocated. The delay created interest nationally and was featured on the television program ‘Sunrise’.

When the economy turned around, construction was completed and the plant was opened by then Premier Brian Burke on April 11, 1984.

Wagerup produced good quality alumina which was sent by train to either Bunbury or Kwinana where it was blended with the product [alumina] from Kwinana and Pinjarra.

Bunbury Alumina Terminal was part of my responsibility and my Ford Fairlane clocked up many kilometres between Wagerup, Bunbury port and Alcoa head office at Booragoon.

The councilors and officers of Waroona and Harvey Shires were always available to give advice and included such memorable people as Jim Armitage, Jim Iseppi, Dave Tognela, the Hull brothers from Waroona and Don Eckersley from Harvey. It was my great pleasure to work with those people and many others, who were great advocates for their respective areas and helped foster a good spirit of co-operation within the community.”

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