Protecting Alumina Jobs In The Peel Region



MEDIA RELEASE - Tuesday, 12 April 2022  



The Morrison Government is supporting a low-emissions alumina refining project in Western Australia that will protect export jobs and help bring down emissions from alumina production.

The Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will contribute $8.6 million to Alcoa Australia’s $19.7 million project. The project will look at the feasibility of replacing gas-fired calcination with electric calciners powered by renewable energy to produce smelter-grade Alumina at Alcoa’s Pinjarra refinery near Mandurah, WA.

As the world's largest exporter of alumina, Australia is well-positioned to trial and develop electric calcination technology, and inform the commercialisation of the technology globally.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the project demonstrated the contrast between the Government’s approach to industry policy and the Labor Opposition’s alternative.

“We’re working with our manufacturers to support them to trial new technologies that will reduce emissions. We’re not forcing them to adopt technologies before they’re commercial. That’s what technology not taxes means,” Minister Taylor said.

“At a time when we are trying to strengthen our supply chain security, an Albanese Labor government would push Australian manufacturing and strategic industries in the opposite direction.

“Labor’s industry policy will drive up the cost of doing business in Australia, by putting heavy industries like these on a costly trajectory dictated by politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra.

“Labor’s industry policy is a threat to jobs and economic security in Western Australia.”

Member for Canning Andrew Hastie said this investment was a vote of confidence in heavy industry in the Peel region by the Morrison Government – securing jobs and supporting business to commercialise new technologies.  

“As the Member for Canning I know how vital the Alcoa alumina refinery is to our region, and I am committed to ensuring its future is secure. The last time Labor was in government, together with the Greens, they introduced the Mining tax and sought to impose costs on business, putting jobs at risk,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.  

“Only the Morrison Government can be trusted to support jobs in Pinjarra and across the Peel region, and prioritise technology over taxes.”

More than 1,300 Western Australians work at Alcoa’s Pinjarra refinery, and more than 5,500 in the alumina refining sector in the state’s south west.  

The Government first prioritised developing a low emissions aluminium value chain in 2020. Low emissions aluminium is one of six priority areas identified under Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap to help industries reduce emissions while promoting economic growth.  

The project will be delivered in two stages. The first stage will involve a commercialisation study and a small scale pilot to test the viability of electrifying the calcination process and will run until the end of 2023. The second stage involves the construction of a larger 1.4MW electric calciner pilot at Alcoa’s Pinjarra refinery that will begin in 2024. If the project is proven feasible, it will generate up to 25 jobs for the region.

ARENA has previously supported Alcoa to trial Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR) to produce high pressure steam using renewable energy for use in the low temperature Bayer process at its Wagerup alumina refinery in Western Australia.  

Electric calcination paired with MVR could reduce emissions from alumina refining by up to 98 per cent.

The Western Australia Government is contributing $1.7 million to the project through its Clean Energy Future Fund, while CSIRO is providing technical expertise for the heating element technology validation and selection.  

More information about the project and low emissions aluminium projects can be found at