In full swing
By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au
AFTER three years of construction the Comalco Alumina Refinery is expected to export its first shipment within the next two weeks.
The Comalco Alumina Refinery (CAR) yesterday announced exclusively to The Observer that construction had officially been completed.
They also announced that the first load of alumina produced at the plant would be exported to China.
The announcement comes earlier than expected with the plant completed and producing alumina three months ahead of schedule.
The refinery has now produced 37,000 tonnes of alumina with a 20,000 tonne shipment scheduled for China by the end of the month.
CAR general manager of operations Trevor Peters (pictured right) has been part of the CAR project since it was announced in 2001 and said he was proud of the milestone.
"In a way I'm like a proud father when I look at where the project has come over the past three years,'' Mr Trevor said.
"I stood here on the site when nothing had been touched and to see it now and where we are, I'm just delighted.''
Mr Peters said the completion of construction meant operations staff would now take the reins. "We can now say it's (construction) is 100 per cent complete,'' Mr Peters said. "Now we move into the operations mode and starting ramping up the plant for production.'' Mr Peters said the Comalco project had been "the only show in town'' during construction, particularly considering several other projects that had failed to eventuate.
Mr Peters said the public of Gladstone would now look to the second stage of the CAR project to "break the boom ? bust cycle'' Gladstone currently found themselves in.
However Mr Peters stopped short of making any promises on stage two, saying they had a small team who continued to investigate it.
"A lot has changed recently, such as the exchange rate, which means we have some big hurdles to clear yet (for stage two,)'' Mr Peters said.
Mr Trevor praised the efforts of all staff in getting the refinery to its current stage.
"The people have just been terrific, they been putting in some very long hours and they've put in the energy to hit the milestones,'' Mr Peters said.
The number of workers required at the site for operations is about 400 with 300 full time CAR employees and another 100 contractors.
This is a fraction of the more than 2000 workers who worked on the site at the peak of construction.