Russians put expansion back on the cards at QAL



A $1 billion expansion of Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) may have been resurrected after Russian Aluminium giant RUSAL bought of a 20 per cent stake in the plant.

The expansion was originally touted three years ago, but fell by the wayside when Kaiser Aluminium, which formerly owned part of QAL, went broke. QAL has refused to comment on the issue, saying it was an issue for the various owners.

Richard Yank, Australia's head of Alcan which owns a 41.6 per cent stake in the plant, said the plant now had the ownership stability to go ahead with the expansion.

Speaking at a recent Brisbane Mining Club lunch, Mr Yank said a board meeting with RUSAL would help strengthen the possibility of an expansion.

RUSAL managing director Steven Hodgson recently headed a visit to the QAL plant for RUSAL representatives.

In a release to The Observer at the time Mr Hodgson said the visit was an opportunity to discuss future expansions of the QAL plant.

'Mr Hodgson also commented that one of RUSAL's strategic goals is to become self sufficient in alumina and considering future growth at QAL is a key part of this strategy,' the release said.

Yesterday RUSAL Australia managing director Duncan Hedditch said while QAL did offer the possibility of an expansion it was still very early days and no plans had been made.

Mr Yank said for an expansion to take place there would also need to be a secured supply of bauxite.

This supply could come in the form of the controversial 500 million tonne Aurukun bauxite deposit in North Queensland, with all three of QAL's owners Alcan, RUSAL and Comalco showing interest in obtaining the deposits.

Comalco would also not comment on the QAL expansion.



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