Pinjarra is a small town on the Murray River, a few kilometres from the coastal centres of Mandurah and Rockingham. The region was one of the first settled in Western Australia and has some fine examples of colonial architecture in attractive farming country.
It's also where Alcoa runs the world's largest bauxite mine and since 1978, more than half a million people have toured the Huntley Mine and Pinjarra alumina refinery. Tours are tailored to educate visitors on the various areas of operations, which include mining, rehabilitation, refining and residue rehabilitation.
Visitors learn about the entire process from bauxite deposits, government approvals, extraction techniques, crushing, stockpiling and transport. They also see the latest equipment in operation excavators, scrapers, front-end loaders and bulldozers, including the world largest, the Komatsu 575.
Alcoa's award-winning mine rehabilitation and revegetation techniques are thanks to research carried out at its Marrinup nursery, creating a world benchmark. Twenty two million tonnes of bauxite are extracted each year from the Huntley Mine, and a total of more than twenty eight million tonnes produced in total from both Western Australian mines. Millions of jarrah seeds fill in the blank spaces.
The refinery tour provides visitors with an insight to the Bayer process, discussing the four main steps of refining as well as operational procedures, licences, accreditations, energy-efficiency and even community involvement. Guides tailor tours to suit the needs and time of visitors. Tours take 2.5 hours and visitors are transported by bus.
If distances are a problem, they will arrange school visits to ensure no one misses out on the educational experience.