In the 1950s Comalco and Kaiser joined forces to develop newly found deposits of bauxite in Weipa, North Queensland.
Rich deposits of bauxite had been discovered in Weipa in 1955, and in the early 1960s engineers started to investigate suitable sites in Queensland for a large alumina plant.
An agreement was made between the Queensland Government and CRA/Comalco to ensure that the bauxite mined in Weipa would be processed in Queensland. The government was after vertical integration of industry from mining through to smelting.
The owners were hesitant to select a remote site, given the lack of infrastructure, so a choice had to be made between Gladstone and Brisbane.
In 1951 Marty Hansen MLA at the time, was sent to Brisbane to push Port Curtis as the logical choice – with Barney Point in mind.
Gladstone (500km north of Brisbane) was chosen because its combined advantages outweighed any other location - availability of land, a recently retrenched workforce, a deep-water harbour adjacent to the plant site, rail access, a nearby power station, etc.
Site construction from 1963 to 1966 with a peak construction workforce of 2800 people
Production began on March 11, 1967
QAL became one of Australia’s largest alumina refineries and was expanded over the years
Current annual production of 3.80 million tonnes
Economic contribution - in 2013 $657 million spent in local economy (wages, salaries, capital works, etc.)
Number of employees – 1050 permanent staff, approximately 300 contractors
Ownership – 80% Rio Tinto, 20% Rusal