Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery is situated in the Yarwun area, 10km north-west of Gladstone in Central Queensland. Yarwun represents Rio Tinto’s first 100 per cent owned and operated alumina refinery.
Our world class refinery incorporates leading edge technology and environmental design features which have also been incorporated into Yarwun 2; the current expansion to our refinery, which will more than double our existing capacity of alumina production. Yarwun 2 includes components such as a Cogeneration facility which will allow us to reduce our greenhouse intensity, while being able to feed surplus electricity back into the power grid.
Yarwun refinery currently employs 550 people, the majority of which are local to the region. The refinery strives to employ and retain highly capable and enthusiastic people who enjoy their work and are committed to contributing to the success of the operation.
Commitment to the safety of employees and contractors and the protection of the environment are integral to the values of the operation. The refinery operates under the principle “the Goal is Zero”, which envisions creating a workplace free from incidents and injuries.
The facility aims to be a valued community member and to contribute to the enduring sustainability of the region in which the employees live and operate. There is a great emphasis on the value of active community engagement, which is reflected by the number of relationships and partnerships we have, and continue to build, with the local community. Efforts to employ locally and utilise local products and services wherever possible are key components of this strategy.
We use the Bayer process to refine the bauxite into alumina. Grinding mills prepare the bauxite for a high temperature digestion where aluminium hydroxide is dissolved from the bauxite into a solution of caustic liquor. The resultant liquor and solids are separated in clarifiers before the liquor is sent to precipitation and the solids are washed and pumped into residue storage. Open top precipitation tanks allow hydroxide crystals to form from the super saturated liquor. These crystals are then heated in calciners to remove water molecules and produce alumina powder which is stored for shipment to domestic and international customers.