April 14, 2023

Alcoa builds on its 60-year legacy

  • Outlines plans to reduce clearing in next proposed mine region by about 1000 hectares
  • Confirms bauxite export plans are being withdrawn
  • Announces $400,000 upgrade to popular eco and trails tourism park

In marking 60 years of operating in the State’s Peel region, Alcoa Australia continues to evolve its business to meet changing needs and expectations.

Alcoa Vice President Operations – Australia Rob Bear told the Peel Regional Growth & Major Project Summit in Mandurah on April 4 that the company was acutely aware of changing environmental and sustainability needs and expectations.

Mr Bear said Alcoa was committed to continuously improving the way it mines bauxite and refines alumina in WA, including modernising its approvals framework, so it can continue to produce a metal – aluminium – that is vital to everyday life and a sustainable decarbonised future.

He said that was why, nearly three years ago, Alcoa proactively referred its next proposed bauxite mining areas to the State and Commonwealth for a full environmental review. Alcoa of Australia has also sought a full environmental review for a planned increase in production at its Pinjarra Alumina Refinery.

“Those plans are currently subject to the highest level of environmental assessment – a Public Environmental Review, which we welcome,” said Mr Bear, who also outlined important modifications to the plans based on extensive consultation and environmental studies.

The size of the next proposed mining area, near Jarrahdale, is being reduced, resulting in about 1,000 hectares less clearing, which will have operations more than 5km away from the townsite.

Plans to export a small amount of bauxite are also being withdrawn, as 100 per cent of the bauxite ore mined in WA will be processed exclusively by Alcoa’s three local alumina refineries in the State.

In addition, Mr Bear used the summit to announce that Alcoa was providing $400,000 to upgrade Langford Park, a popular eco and trails tourism site near Jarrahdale.

Langford Park was where Alcoa’s Australian business was born when it started mining bauxite there in 1963. Alcoa rehabilitated the site and helped establish the park, which the State has managed since 1975.

 Today, Alcoa Australia operates two bauxite mines and three alumina refineries in WA’s Kwinana, Peel and Upper South West regions. It directly employs about 4,000 people in WA and annually pays about $650 million annually in wages, salaries, and benefits, spends $1.7 billion with more than 900 WA suppliers and contractors, and invests about $4.5 million in community projects.

“While it is important to recognise and celebrate past achievements, we must continue to look forward and improve our practices,” Mr Bear said.

As well as evolving its approvals framework, Mr Bear told the summit that Alcoa is committed to continuous improvement. He reiterated Alcoa is acutely focused on ensuring its mining operations do not negatively impact public drinking water supplies. The company is focused on the quality of life in the areas where it operates, including restoring the jarrah forest after mining.

“Ultimately, we need to balance management of the natural environment while keeping a strong economy and safe and secure jobs,” Mr Bear said. “Continuing to operate sustainably is key, and we must do that to sustain our business and the people that depend on it.”