The Amrun project comprises the engineering, procurement, and construction management for Rio Tinto Group’s bauxite mine, processing plant, dam, tailings storage facility, roads, export wharf, ferry terminals, and accommodation village on Australia’s Cape York Peninsula in the state of Queensland. Bechtel is involved with Amrun’s expansion, which will increase Rio Tinto’s capacity and reduce its cost to produce the bauxite ore used to make aluminum. The mining complex, which is expected to begin shipping bauxite in 2019, will produce about 23 million metric tons of the material per year.

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Engaging Community Partners

At the request of the indigenous Traditional Owners, the project is known as Amrun. This is the Wik-Waya-language name for the Boyd Bay area where the new mine will be built.

Before work on the project began, Rio Tinto and the Wik-Waya Traditional Owners collaborated to develop the Amrun Communities, Heritage, and Environment Management Plan. Bechtel ensures that work at the project aligns with the plan, which provides a framework whereby Rio Tinto, Bechtel, and Traditional Owners work together on managing the land in a way that meets business needs and Traditional Owner aspirations through construction and into operations.

Amrun | Queensland
Rio Tinto Aluminium Weipa

The mine is being built to carefully manage cultural heritage sites, such as places with ritually scarred trees, stone tools, and shell mounds, ensuring that cultural and environmental values are protected for future generations. Furthermore, through the creation of a Land & Sea Management Program, Traditional Owners are actively involved in both planning and participating in cultural heritage and environmental management activities.

Archaeologists and Traditional Owners survey all areas disturbed or cleared for construction. Findings from these surveys influence the design of various infrastructures to avoid places of cultural significance and to record archaeological finds.

Bechtel and Rio Tinto also worked with Traditional Owners to protect local biodiversity, like nesting sea turtles, throughout the construction of roads and marine facilities. For example, to safeguard the turtles, the construction did not use artificial light or change the grade of the coast, which could have disrupted their nesting activities. 

Helen Karyuka

Our ancestors, the old people, look after me here. I like sharing the stories about our country passed on to me by my dad. The people I work with want to know about the land and the Wik-Waya culture.

Helen Karyuka
Surveyor’s assistant and daughter of Wik-Waya elder

Supporting Local Economic Development

The project’s construction will employ about 1,100 people at its peak. At the end of 2016, 11 Aboriginal businesses were among the 58 subcontractors from the Western Cape region to be hired on the $1.9 billion (AUD$2.6 billion) project. Any contractor receiving more than $1 million is required to submit a plan for managing the participation of local and indigenous workers.

Amrun

A true highlight of my career is how my interaction with the Traditional Owners evolved into a deeper, meaningful engagement over time.

Andy Riddle
Andy Riddle
Construction Coordinator