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Project a major boost

RESOURCES Development Minister Colin Barnett has congratulated Worsley Alumina on the completion of the billion dollar expansion of its alumina refinery at Worsley in the South West.

He said the project provided a major boost to the WA economy during construction. About 80 per cent of the content and labour involved in the project were sourced locally.

The work program contributed about $1 million a day to the South West’s economy during the 32 months of construction and employed more than 2,000 Western Australians at its peak.

The expansion has increased capacity at the refinery by 1.22 million tonnes to 3.1 million tonnes a year.

The expansion also included the construction of a $90 million gas-fired co-generation plant to provide for Worsley’s additional steam and electricity requirements.

The plant, owned by the South West Cogeneration Joint Venture – 50 per cent owned by Western power and 50 per cent owned by Fletcher Challenge – also supplies about 110 megawatts into the Western Power grid.

According to Mr Barnett, the upgrade was expected to further reduce costs at Worsley, cementing WA’s position as the lowest cost alumina production centre in the world.

One major Worsley customer is the new Mozal aluminium smelter in Mozambique.

“The long-term contract based on this increased capacity has lifted Australia to Mozambique’s second largest trading partner after South Africa,” Mr Barnett said.

The Worsley joint venture is made up of Reynolds Australia Alumina (56 per cent ownership), Billiton Australia Alumina (30 per cent), Kobe Alumina Associates (10 per cent) and Nissho Iwai Alumina (4 per cent).

WA supplies about 20 per cent of the world’s alumina from the bauxite deposits of the Darling Range.

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