Alcoa of Australia's History

In 1957 WMC Limited, one of Australia's most successful mining companies, began exploring the bauxite in the Darling Range of Western Australia to confirm and map what appeared to be extensive reserves.

Within a year the deposits had been delineated and encouraging results prompted WMC to invite two other Australian mining companies, Broken Hill South Ltd. and North Broken Hill Ltd., to join the venture. A new company, Western Aluminium N.L., was formed to develop an integrated aluminium industry.

However, an undertaking of this size needed enormous capital input and a background in technology that was not at that time available in Australia. The Aluminum Company of America (now Alcoa Inc) was approached, with the Australian companies offering a partnership in exchange for the necessary capital and technological support. Alcoa of Australia was formed in June 1961 as a result of these negotiations, and was granted a 12,619 sq km bauxite mining lease by the Western Australian Government.

In December 1961, ground was broken for the Kwinana Alumina Refinery near Perth, the Point Henry Aluminium Smelter, and a semi-fabricating plant near Geelong in Victoria. This was an immense project at the time. The expenditure for initial production capacity was 50% more than the combined market value of the three original Australian partners.

Point Henry Smelter came on stream in 1963 and Kwinana Refinery the following year, initiating what was to become the world's biggest bauxite-alumina industry.

WMC Resources Ltd

Australia's aluminium since 1963

Throughout 2003 Alcoa celebrated the 40th anniversary of a remarkable enterprise – one born of visionary leadership and nurtured by hope, optimism, innovation and hard work.

Click image to enlarge.

The Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte (centre), performs the groundbreaking ceremony for the Point Henry Smelter.