Tipity Tip Top
03.08.2010 30 °C
Weipa: We stayed in Weipa for three nights which was the first stop at the Cape York Peninsula. We set up camp and went fishing on the jetty where we were getting massive bites but snapping off the line.
The next day we woke up and went to the bait and tackle shop and purchased bigger line, hooks and sinkers and went for a full day of fishing, we caught two GT’s but dad left them in the fridge for too long which stunk out the fridge and wasted the fish.
On our last day at Weipa we took a tour of Rio Tinto’s mine and the town ship of Weipa. Weipa has an estimated population of three thousand of which nine hundred of them are kids enrolled at the local school. The town was built by Comalco and the Queensland government as a mining town in the early 1960’s. Later Comalco was bought out by Rio Tinto and today seven hundred and fifty residents work for the mine. Weipa also has the longest single lane bridge in the southern hemisphere, which was built by the mine for their train to transport minerals from the mine to the shipping Warf. The bridge was built to only last 30 years but has lasted 40 years but needs a lot of maintenance that includes the use of divers. Bull sharks, stingers and crocodiles make it some of the most dangerous diving in Australia.
The mine has haul roads that was built for the haulage trucks and authorised vehicles only. A few years back there was an elderly couple they took a wrong turn onto the haul road and the mine did what they call a one stop all stop which shut down the mine for more than an hour.
We learned that the mining equipment made it a very expensive business with tyres costing between ten and forty thousand dollars. The machines are serviced on site by mechanics and the mine runs two locomotives with 36 carriages that hold 1000 ton per carriage. The trains run 24 hours a day, transporting bauxite to the Weipa shipping Warf before being shipped to Gladstone, Each front end loader holds 10 cubic metres and each haul truck can hold 160 ton. 25% of the truck drivers are women, they prefer to employ women because they are easier on the controls which reduces break downs and therefore reduces down time.
In the early 60’s Comalco/Rio Tinto started mining bauxite and pull out 20 million ton each year. They believe that they still have 40 years mining left at this site. The Rio mine is an open cut shallow mine, it’s shallow because the layers are soil, bauxite, iron stone, clay and then sand. They cannot dig too deep because when the iron stone will contaminate the bauxite and make refining the mineral more expensive.
The process to make aluminium is bauxite rocks are crushed to make a fine white powder called alumina, then the powder is melted down to make aluminium. It takes 4 tonne of bauxite to make 2 tonne of alumina and 2 tonne of alumina to make 1 tonne of aluminium. Rio Tinto mine 6 thousand tonne per hour and 20 million per year from the site.
The mine is operated around the clock running 24/7 and has day and night shifts each person working 2 days 2 nights 4 days off. Rio Tinto is also replanting and rejuvenating the areas they have mined trying to get it back to its original state. As you drive through the mine you’ll see chunks that have been dug around which are aboriginal place of significance that the mine will not dig up.
I thought that Rio Tinto was very good for the community of Weipa. They look after the people of Weipa by providing infrastructure including, hospitals, schooling and sporting facilities and are conscious of returning the environment to its original state.