Bauxite & Alumina

Overview

Western Australia accounts for around 67 per cent of Australia’s alumina production.

Economic Contribution

More than $76 million in alumina royalties was provided to the WA Government in 2018.

Bauxite Alumina

Bauxite is a sedimentary rock with a high aluminium content making it the primary source of most of the world’s aluminium production. To produce aluminium, bauxite is refined to alumina, before being smelted to produce aluminium metal.

Nearly 75 per cent of all aluminium metal ever produced is still in use today. Global aluminium recycling rates tend to be high for construction and transport products as well as beverage cans.

Western Australian bauxite is typically lower grade than the global average (around 32 per cent) but has low amounts of reactive silica and is located close to a skilled workforce, processing facilities and infrastructure. WA bauxite tends to be close to surface and is generally extracted using open cut mining.

Known global reserves can meet total demand for centuries. Western Australia accounts for around 67 per cent of Australia’s alumina production, with the State’s alumina projects among the lowest costs producers in the world. The State’s main producers are Alcoa of Australia and South32’s majority owned Worsley Alumina. Alumina is the State’s third most valuable mineral commodity, accounting for almost 6 per cent of mineral sales value.

WA alumina and bauxite sales volumes have gradually increased year-on-year since 2010–11, reaching a record 14.8 million tonnes in 2017–18. Production is currently focused in the south-west region of the State, with the Darling Scarp containing considerable deposits. Western Australia’s reserves are estimated to be capable of sustaining more than 50 years of alumina production at current levels.

Aluminium foil provides a complete barrier to light, oxygen, moisture and bacteria. For this reason, foil has been used extensively in food packaging since 1911, when Swiss-based Tobler began wrapping its Toblerone chocolate bars in aluminium foil.

Aluminium, which is made via a smelting process that separates alumina into aluminium and oxygen, is the second most widely used metal, after iron. It is widely used in the transport, packaging and electrical systems. Aluminium metal is infinitely recyclable. Without any loss of quality and aluminium scrap it is highly valued.

*Source: DMIRS.

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