QAL’s five-year environmental improvement programme

Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL), is located in Gladstone, Queensland and has been in operation for more than 50 years. Over the period since operations commenced in 1967, QAL has expanded production and is now one of the world’s largest alumina refineries.

In the past 15 years, capital expenditure on environmental improvement projects at QAL has been more than $160 million. However, despite this level of investment, environmental performance has not met the expectations of the community, the regulator or QAL’s standards. In August 2018, the refinery announced its commitment to a five-year environmental improvement programme, to ensure it improves its environmental performance.

This programme and associated implementation plan includes a portfolio of projects that have been prioritised with regard to environmental benefit, focusing on both fundamental operational changes as well as cultural change. It includes both capital expenditure and culture change projects.

An investment of $300 million over the next five years has been approved to reduce short- and long-term environmental risks and improve performance in the areas of:

  • air quality (dust and alkali)
  • odour
  • water
  • land

QAL recognises the culture of an organisation is a significant factor impacting the environmental performance of a business. QAL is redefining the way its employees look at our environmental risk by:

  • Adopting a process safety management system that will identify critical controls for major hazards, which are very closely associated with environmental issues, and
  • Empowering all our employees and contractors to have due and proper consideration of environmental obligations and risk in their everyday tasks.

This environmental improvement programme has been prepared in consultation with QAL’s employees and joint venture owners, Rio Tinto and Rusal, and informed by feedback from the Gladstone community and government bodies. As projects become defined through the study and engineering phases, the business will have a clearer understanding of what the likely environmental improvements will be.

QAL is committed to this improvement plan and will provide a detailed quarterly progress update via its website.