19 March 2024

Glencore ‘pleased’ with progress on Aurukun bauxite push

| Lyndon Keane
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Traditional Owners inspect the sign to the Aurukun Bauxite project at the Amban turnoff on the Aurukun Road, approximately 25 kilometres from the western Cape York community. Photo: Supplied.

Proponents of the planned mine that will extract up to 15 million tonnes of bauxite each year from a site near Aurukun say they are happy with the status of the project.

The Aurukun Bauxite Project, a joint venture between global giants Glencore and Mitsubishi, is located south of Weipa and north-east of Aurukun, and is expected to operate for 25 years and create up to 400 jobs, when operational, if given the regulatory green light.

Part of the regulatory process involved the production of an environmental impact statement (EIS), which was open for public submission from 11 September to 13 November, 2023.

The company is now responding to submissions and project director Julian Farrugia told Cape York Weekly he was happy with the progress being made.

“We continue to be pleased with the level of local support for the project, but also recognise that the duration and complexity of approval processes can be challenging for all stakeholders,” he said.

Mr Farrugia added the submission response process was likely to take until mid-2024 to complete, before the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science subjected it to further assessment.

READ ALSO Glencore unveils its roadmap for proposed Aurukun bauxite mine

When asked how confident he was that stakeholders, including Traditional Owners with English as a second, third or even fourth language, had been effectively consulted on the technical and environmental complexities of the project, Mr Farrugia said significant work had gone into ensuring there was no communication breakdown.

“A lot of effort has gone into the process of supporting and facilitating review of EIS information by Traditional Owners, acknowledging that the content is technically challenging for anyone, let alone those with English as a second language,” he said.

“The main focus of that process has been on ensuring that the issues that are important to TOs are responded to with information tailored to that audience.

“The extent of understanding of Traditional Owner did come through in the submissions that they made.

“Regarding submissions generally, we were pleased with the constructive submissions provided, particularly by local stakeholders [including Aurukun Shire Council, Ngan Aak Kunch, Rio Tinto and Traditional Owners] which reflected the comments that they had made to us directly.”

While the submission response continues, Mr Farrugia said he had no concerns about the project being impacted by a recent unfavourable High Court decision against Glencore’s McArthur River Mine in the Northern Territory.

In February, the court ruled Glencore could not expand its port facility in the Gulf of Carpentaria, an outcome Traditional Owner opponents of the mining operation have claimed as a major victory.

“The McArthur River decision is quite specific to its setting and regulatory context, so we don’t have any concerns in relation to that,” Mr Farrugia said.

Garreth Marpoondin undertakes track identification and clearing work on the Aurukun Bauxite project. Photo: Supplied.

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