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Bechtel Expanding Alumina Refinery in Australia for Rio Tinto


Bechtel has begun work on a US$1.8 billion expansion that will more than double the production at Rio Tinto Aluminium’s Yarwun alumina refinery.

Bechtel is providing engineering, procurement, and construction management for the project, which comes three years after Bechtel completed the first stage of the refinery (at that time known at the Comalco Alumina Refinery). The expansion will increase annual output by 2 million tonnes to 3.4 million tonnes. The first shipments from the expanded refinery are set for the second half of 2010.

The project will include construction of a 160-megawatt, gas-fired cogeneration plant that will improve energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. About half the electricity generated by the plant will be used to power the existing and new refinery facilities with the remainder exported to the national electricity grid.

The Yarwun project is one of the most significant investments in recent years for Rio Tinto, one of the world’s leading diversified mining groups.

It also is the latest in a series of successful projects Bechtel has undertaken for the Rio Tinto Aluminium, including upgrades to the Weipa mine in northern Queensland, which provides bauxite for the Yarwun refinery. Alumina produced from bauxite is the raw material for making aluminum.

“Together with customers like Rio Tinto, Bechtel is helping meet growing worldwide demand for aluminum,” said Jim Haynes, president of Bechtel Mining & Metals.

Based in San Francisco, Bechtel is one of the world’s premier engineering, construction, and project management companies. Today our 40,000 employees are teamed with customers, partners, and suppliers on hundreds of projects in nearly 50 countries. Bechtel is a leading contractor for the aluminum industry and has designed and built many of the world’s largest aluminum smelters, including two nearing completion in Oman and Iceland. For more information about Bechtel, visit


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