Rio Tinto Alcan, Yarwun. Photo Tom Huntley / The Observer
Rio Tinto Alcan, Yarwun. Photo Tom Huntley / The Observer Tom Huntley GLA161012RIOT

WE WERE THERE: Rio Tino refinery doubles capacity

We Were There is a series that revisits The Observer's in-depth coverage of the major evens that have shaped Gladstone region over the years. Today, we look back at the opening of 'Yarwun 2'.

IT HAD always been called Yarwun 2 - all the way through the construction process of doubling the capacity of the Rio Tinto Alcan alumina refinery at Yarwun.

Once it was complete the whole site took on the same name, dropping the "2".

It was a big day, the official opening, and The Observer was there to record the historic occasion as then-premier Campbell Newman declared the upgraded section open.

The construction job was carried out by Bechtel and it had taken five years to finish.

The total cost of the project was $2.5 billion.

Hundreds of workers in orange shirts and white hard hats lined up on the day as dignitaries and industry bosses listened to then-general manager Mike Dunstan (who is now the general manager of QAL) describe the importance of the achievement.

Every major politician and company in the region made an appearance.

The expansion more than doubled production at the refinery to 3.4 million tonnes of alumina per year.

Mr Dunstan said at the opening ceremony that the facility had performed better than expected during commissioning.

During construction, $1.9 billion was spent on contracts and procurements in Australia, including $360 million in Gladstone and $1.4 billion in Queensland.



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