By GLEN PORTEOUSglenp@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
THE possibility of another major aluminium industry player establishing itself in the Gladstone region has moved a step closer following Chalco's shortlisting as a developer of the Aurukun bauxite deposit near Weipa.
The second largest alumina producer in the world, Chinese giant Chalco has successfully won through to the next stage of bidding for the bauxite deposit.
However there is still some work to be done before they can develop the site, according to Gladstone Economic and Industry Development Board chief executive Dr Ken King.
'They have gone through to the next stage of preferred bidder, but Chalco still have to spend another $4 million on completing its pre-feasibility study,' Dr King said.
If successful, Chalco has indicated that if successful it would build a mine and washing plant at Aurukun and an alumina refinery along the Queensland coast worth a total of $2.92 billion.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday said the preferred refinery sites being considered by Chalco were Bowen, Townsville and Gladstone.
"CHALCO visited Gladstone late last year and were very positive about it and explored a range of issues,'' Dr King said.
'We have port, power and energy and these are key important competitive advantages that Gladstone has to offer,' said Dr King.
'This focus on opportunity for Gladstone will be very important and we will continue to promote Gladstone,' Dr King said.
Mr Beattie said the Chalco proposal planned to extract 7.5 million tonnes of bauxite annually in order to produce 2.1 million tonnes of alumina yearly from the refinery.
He said the project would involve an estimated direct construction workforce of 3800 over a three year period, including 700 for the mine and washing plant at Aurukun and 3100 for the refinery.
After construction was complete there would be a direct operational workforce of about 600, including about 105 at the mine and washing plant and 470 at the refinery.
The pre-feasibilty study to define refinery site options and submission of the final proposal would be completed by the end of May, Mr Beattie said.
Chalco would then move towards making a final proposal and to conclude a development agreement with the state government for the project.
'That final proposal is likely to be the biggest single investment in the history of Queensland,'' Mr Beattie said.