QAL Gladstone General Manager Pine Pienaar.
QAL Gladstone General Manager Pine Pienaar.

NO COAL DUST: $3.5m QAL silo increases capacity

WORK has been conducted at Queensland Alumina Limited for the past six months on a $3.5 million coal storage project aimed at increasing capacity and reducing the possibility of coal dust spreading around Gladstone.

QAL General Manager Pine Pienaar said the project was part of ongoing works to improve the facility.

“The completion of the Coal Silo 2 project is an important milestone for us,” Mr Pienaar said.

“We were pleased to be able to partner with local contractors to complete this work safely”.

This latest project, which came online this week, sees QAL’s coal silo capacity increased by more than 2000 tonnes.

The project saw extensive rebuild works to repair the walls of the decommissioned silo, including full painting inside and out.

Coal storage silos at QAL. Coal is used to fire the boilers to provide electricity and steam throughout the plant.
Coal storage silos at QAL. Coal is used to fire the boilers to provide electricity and steam throughout the plant.

A QAL spokeswoman said the local contractors worked around the clock.

“Thirty local contractors were employed on the $3.5 million project, working both day and night shifts,” the spokeswoman said.

Contractors including boilermakers, painters and scaffolders were involved in delivering the project safely, within budget and on time.

The project required 160 tonnes of scaffolding, which is more scaffolding on this one project than the entire QAL site would normally use.

The completion of this project has increased QAL’s coal storage capacity to more than 6000 tonnes, across three silos.

Coal used at QAL is delivered to the plant by rail.

Each silo alone stores more than 2000 tonnes of coal.

The silos are used to store the coal before it is used it its coal-fired boilers to generate electricity and power the plant.

The boilers also create steam for use in the bauxite refining process.

After rich deposits of bauxite, the raw material used to manufacture aluminium, were discovered in Weipa, far north Queensland, engineers began investigating a location to refine the mineral.

When the Queensland Government and CRA Comalco agreed the bauxite would be processed in Queensland, Gladstone became an obvious choice as a refinery location due to its port.

A coal storage silo at QAL was recommissioned in a $3.5 million project, over six months using up to 30 local contractors, which will prevent the spread of coal dust around Gladstone.
A coal storage silo at QAL was recommissioned in a $3.5 million project, over six months using up to 30 local contractors, which will prevent the spread of coal dust around Gladstone.

Gladstone was chosen because its combined advantages outweighed any other location – availability of land, a deepwater harbour adjacent to the plant site, rail access and a nearby power station.

QAL was built between 1963 and 1966 with a peak workforce of 2800.

Production began at the refinery on March 11, 1967, and QAL continues today to be one of the nations premier alumina refineries.

QAL is part of Rio Tinto Alcan’s Pacific Aluminium Operations producing alumina.

Alumina is extracted from bauxite using a four-stage chemical process known as the Bayer process, and shipped locally and around the world to produce aluminium at facilities like Boyne Smelters Limited.

Related stories:

What’s being done in Rio Tinto’s $75m Gladstone shutdowns

$400m spend to reduce QAL’s environmental impact

Gladstone could be a ‘model’ for sustainable heavy industry



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