QAL's Parsons Point refinery is 80 per-cent owned by Rio Tinto. Picture: Rodney Stevens
QAL's Parsons Point refinery is 80 per-cent owned by Rio Tinto. Picture: Rodney Stevens

Rio Tinto injects $531 million into Gladstone economy

GLOBAL mining giant Rio Tinto injected $531 million into the Gladstone region economy last year, including a direct community investment of $579,525 according to its latest financial figures released yesterday.

Rio Tinto partially owns, or completely owns four sites in the Gladstone region, and is the largest employer and economic contributor to the region, providing almost 3000 locals jobs.

Last year, Gladstone's Rio Tinto operations processed 498,751 tonnes of aluminium and 6.5 million tonnes of alumina from a capital expenditure of $267 million.

Despite a challenging aluminium and alumina market, Rio Tinto continues to invest in the region, assisting 114 community organisations in 2019.

"Together we renewed our commitment to Here for Gladstone, focusing on two primary areas," the report reveals.

"Growing local businesses and improving the welfare of the Gladstone community."

Since Rio Tinto's Here for Business was established in 2017, more than $660,00 has been injected into local businesses.

"$669,789 has been invested through micro loans and mentoring for local businesses," the report states.

"In 2019, program participants were responsible for creating 23 new jobs within the region.

"Here for community focused their 2019 efforts on developing a response plan to connect services and reduce barriers for people seeking mental health, alcohol and other drug support services."


Rio Tinto's Yarwun (Gladstone) Alumina refinery.
Rio Tinto's Yarwun (Gladstone) Alumina refinery.


Case studies are a big focus for Rio's Gladstone region businesses, with game-changing research being conducted in conjunction with Queensland University, to turn bauxite residue into soil capable of growing plants.

"This part of the work is being conducted across Rio Tinto Aluminium to explore the use of red mud," the report states.

"If successful, the research could transform the way refineries rehabilitate red mud dams and significantly improve the economic and ecological sustainability of the aluminium industry."

Environmental projects are also part of the focus.

"In 2019 QAL invested $19.5 million into environmental projects as part of the five year Environmental Strategy Program," the report said.

"With an overall investment commitment of more than $260 million, this program includes a portfolio of projects that have been prioritised to either improve environmental performance at QAL or reduce the risk of QAL impacting the receiving environment."

Boyne Smelters Limited won a can recycling grant and will partner with Container Exchange on a Circular Economy Lab project.

"A project which would see cans collected through CoEx processed at BSL rather than offshore," the report says.

"BSL currently recycles approximately 900 tonnes of cans each year with the potential to increase to 4000 tonnes."

The total national spend of Rio Tinto's Gladstone operations on goods and services was $1.6 billion, with $30 million paid in taxes and royalties to local, state and federal governments.