January 21, 2013

Alcoa celebrates first 50 years in Australia

Australians have a long and proud history of ‘giving it a go’, but it takes more than blood, sweat and tears to go the distance and build a company that represents the world’s largest integrated bauxite mining, alumina refining and aluminium smelting system.
 
This year Alcoa of Australia celebrates 50 years of operating and investing in Australia and its people; it’s a time to reflect on past achievements, challenges faced and celebrate the people who made the achievement possible.
 
The company’s rich history started out in Western Australia’s Darling Range in 1957 when the Western Mining Corporation (WMC), then one of Australia’s most successful mining companies, began exploring for bauxite. After deposits were confirmed and prospects deemed bright WMC invited two other Australian mining companies, Broken Hill South Ltd and North Broken Hill Ltd, to form a new company and develop an integrated aluminium industry.
 
An injection of funds was needed, so the new joint venture approached the Aluminum Company of America for help to develop the sizable bauxite deposit. The companies struck up a partnership, forming Alcoa of Australia in June 1961.
 
Alcoa’s first bauxite was mined from Jarrahdale, east of Perth, in 1963, supplying Alcoa’s Kwinana refinery on the coast 35 kilometres south of Perth. The first alumina shipment left Kwinana port aboard the ‘Lake Sorrel’ on 22 February 1964 bound for Alcoa’s Point Henry smelter in Geelong, Victoria. One month later the first export shipment of aluminium ingot was despatched from Geelong to Japan.
 
Together with Alcoa of Australia, the Mining Operations, Kwinana Alumina Refinery and Point Henry Smelter also celebrate 50 years of operations this year.
 
Alcoa of Australia’s Managing Director Alan Cransberg has been with the company for more than thirty years, from the early days as a graduate civil engineer to leading a 5,000-strong workforce today.
 
“It’s a remarkable milestone and testament to the many talented, courageous and industrious people who have worked and currently work for Alcoa,” he said.
 
“We have many long-term employees who have clocked up 25, 30 and 40 years of service; without their continuing dedication and commitment we would not be here today celebrating this remarkable achievement.
 
“And while Alcoa has contributed to the nation’s economic and social prosperity, through royalty and tax payments, local purchasing, jobs and wages, it’s the regional communities in which we operate that are the real beneficiaries.
 
“Each year we invest around $5 million in a variety of community programs and dedicate hundreds of hours in people time and in-kind support.
 
“Our employee volunteering program is second to none and each year we hold our Month of Service initiative for employees to show how much change can occur by working together within our communities.”
 
One community partnership that has stood the test of time is Greening Australia, the environmental landscape protection, restoration and education organisation.
 
Alcoa and Greening Australia celebrated a 30 year milestone last year in what is thought to be one of Australia’s longest and most successful corporate and environmental NGO partnerships (see celebration video on Alcoa TV).
 
With Alcoa’s past built on the qualities of aluminium - known for being lightweight, endlessly recyclable, corrosion resistant and integral to everyday life - its future certainly looks bright as look around and see the multitude of products now using aluminium.
 
Planes, trains, cars, buses, laptops, iPads, mobile phones, DVDs, building materials, outdoor furniture, screw cap bottle tops, beverage cans, aluminium foil, the list goes on.
 
It is hard to imagine what the next 50 years will bring but you can be sure aluminium will feature strongly as will Alcoa of Australia as both are committed to advancing each generation to create a sustainable future.
 
History of Alcoa of Australia 

- ENDS -
 
Media contacts:
 
Nichola Holgate 0409 036 948 nichola.holgate@alcoa.com.au
Jane McGuire 0410 694 676 jane.mcguire@alcoa.com.au 



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Early drilling in Jarrahdale in Western Australia.





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Kwinana Refinery at full production in the 1970s.





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Pouring molten aluminum into ingot moulds at the Point Henry Smelter in the early years.