Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corporation will build a $111 million hydrogen pilot plant in Gladstone, Queensland. Aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the aluminium smelting process, the QLD facility was co-funded to the tune of $32 million by the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Hydrogen will replace natural gas in a portion of the Yarwun refinery, directly reducing carbon emissions by about 3,000 tonnes per year.

If the entire Yarwun plant transitions to green hydrogen, 500,000 tonnes of carbon emissions could be eliminated annually – the equivalent of taking about 109,000 internal combustion engine cars off the road.

The project will include the construction of a 2.5MW on-site electrolyser supplying hydrogen to Yarwun, while a retrofitted calciner will be adapted to operate with a hydrogen burner. If it’s a win, the Yarwun pilot program could open the way for global adoption of the technology at scale. 

Construction of the hydrogen plant will start in 2024, with the operation of the calciner expected by 2025.

According to Rio’s Aluminium Pacific Ops Managing Director Armando Torres, “The pilot plant is an important step in testing whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in Queensland alumina refineries.

“At Rio Tinto, we have put the energy transition at the heart of our business strategy, and this is one of the ways we’re working towards decarbonising our operations. We are proud to be developing this new technology here in Gladstone, in partnership with Sumitomo Corporation, and with support from ARENA,” he finished.

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BHP and JX Metals partner for a cleaner copper supply.

One of the essential minerals in the push for net zero emissions, copper is more sought after than ever in today’s world.

To that end, copper giant BHP and JX Metals Corporation have announced a plan to “support a responsible copper supply chain through greater traceability and material origin verification.” Labelled the “Green Enabling Partnership”, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will focus on downstream producers and consumers, including copper product manufacturers and the semiconductor, information technology and automobile industries. Advocating circular economic practices and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the companies will also promote knowledge sharing to reduce the carbon footprint of electrolytic copper and material processing while exploring energy-efficient smelting operations.

According to JX’s Metals director and deputy chief executive officer Kazuhiro Hori, “Our efforts to produce more sustainable copper are centred on green hybrid smelting at the Saganoseki smelter and refinery.” 

“Partnerships with upstream sectors are essential to reduce our scope 3 emissions reported by JX Metals in copper concentrate production and transportation.”

“We will respond to our stakeholders’ needs by enhancing our environmental, social and governance efforts in upstream sectors through this partnership with BHP,” he added. 


Free Lung Checks for Retired Miners

The Queensland government has urged retired miners to sign up for a free lung health check. According to a government statement, “In the last year, the total number of mine dust lung disease cases for current and former workers diagnosed since 1984 has risen to 400. Most new cases are former workers who have received a free lung health check from their local, RSHQ-approved doctor or onboard Heart of Australia’s HEART 5 Mobile Health Unit.

The announcement at a glance:

  • Former and retired Queensland mine and quarry workers are encouraged to take advantage of free lung health checks to detect mine dust lung diseases.
  • The free lung health check program administered by Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) provides a free check every five years for life.
  • New figures show these checks continue to detect mine dust lung disease cases as more former and retired workers get tested.

Former workers can book a free lung health check on the HEART 5 Mobile Health Unit at a local authorised doctor or by contacting the Mine Dust Health Support Service on 1300 445 715.


Dust suppression is a critical issue in the world of mining and resources.

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