Alcoa faces two lean years until it expands mining near Serpentine Dam

Wednesday, Feb 22, 2023

  Alcoa’s alumina production in Western Australia will be curtailed for two years until the state government allows it to mine more jarrah forest near Perth’s biggest drinking water dam.

  Mike Ferraro, chief executive of Alumina Limited, said until Alcoa could mine the Myara North area the quantity and quality of bauxite supplied to two of its WA alumina refineries would be insufficient for them to operate at full capacity.
  The Myara North area stretches from Jarrahdale down to the northern edge of the waters of the Serpentine Dam that supplies 18 per cent of Perth’s water, and east to Albany Highway.
  The $4.4 billion Melbourne-based company’s sole asset is a 40 per cent share in the Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals joint venture managed by US-based Alcoa.
  In WA, AWAC owns the sprawling Huntly mine area that supplies bauxite to its Kwinana and Pinjarra alumina refineries and, further south, the Willowdale mine area that supports the Wagerup refinery.
  Ferraro, speaking on Tuesday after the release of Alumina Limited’s 2022 financial results, said Alcoa was running down the area it now mined at Huntly.
  “The next phase is to move into the Myara North part of the lease and that’s when you would expect both the grade and quantum of production to improve,” he said.
  The WA Environmental Protection Authority is assessing Alcoa’s plans to extend the Huntly mine area into Myara North and south into an area called Holyoake.
  Alcoa expects to finalise its submission to the EPA by June. With time for public comments to be received and responded to, the EPA to produce its assessment, and the inevitable large number of appeals to be decided on, approval is predicted to be granted by September 2024.

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