Aerial View of Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) Gladstone.

Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer
Aerial View of Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL) Gladstone. Photo Brenda Strong / The Observer Brenda Strong GLA040712VIEW

Rumours mining giant circling our aluminium sites

SPECULATION is rife multinational miner Glencore is the potential suitor for Rio Tinto's Pacific Aluminium assets in Gladstone.

After being on and off the market for more than five years, rumours are circling the company is likely to buy Queensland Alumina Limited, Rio Tinto Yarwun and Boyne Smelter Limited.

A former worker at one of the three sites, who requested to remain anonymous, said talk within the industry was that Glencore would buy the three sites.

Rio Tinto did not address the rumours, adding the company "does not comment on market speculation".

Asked if it had bought the Pacific Aluminium assets, Glencore declined to comment.

It is not the first time Glencore has been suspected of circling the Gladstone refineries and smelter.

Last month The Australian reported the US-based company was showing interest in buying the business for potentially as much as $1.3 billion.

Rising aluminium prices is believed to have sparked the interest.

The Australian said information memorandums were expected to hit the desks of prospective suitors around October 1.

Pacific Aluminium had a net income of $US92 million between January and June according to Rio Tinto's second quarter results.

The report said production dropped at all three Gladstone sites this year, a result of Cyclone Debbie.

Gladstone MP, and former QAL superintendent, Glenn Butcher said while he wasn't aware of a buyer, he hoped any new owner would treat workers right.

Speaking to The Observer after debating a new labour hire worker's bill for Queensland, Mr Butcher said Glencore's several ongoing worker's condition disputes "raised eyebrows".

"Obviously this is all speculation at the moment ... I'm happy for anyone who buys them, but my main concern is that they they need to do the right thing by the people who work there," he said.

"With QAL it has had many different owners over time, but traditionally the workers get looked after."

The speculation comes off the back of Glencore's recent $1.42bn purchase of 49% of the Hunter Valley Operations coalmines from Yancoal Australia and Mitsubishi.

Earlier this month Glencore also announced its plans to sell its Rolleston coalmine in the Bowen Basin as part of an ongoing program to "redeploy capital into other opportunities".

The company is already involved in Gladstone's industry sphere, holding a major stake in the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal.



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