Yarwun Alumina Refinery

World’s largest JPU-based, high-pressure Bayer plant

Rio Tinto Aluminium | Australia | 1995–2004 and 2006–2012


new alumina project in 15 years


capacity increase in 2012


quartile energy user


  • Rio Tinto wished to implement tube digestion technology at its Gladstone, Australia plant.
  • This was the world’s first greenfield alumina plant to implement tube digestion technology on a large scale.
  • The slurry-heating equipment was comprised of pipe-in-pipe rather than shell-and-tube heaters.
  • The bauxite dissolution step was conducted in tube configuration rather than high-pressure autoclaves.


  • The project scope covered feasibility studies, basic and detailed engineering, and commissioning services for the bauxite digestion and evaporation facilities, including design of the core proprietary jacketed-pipe-heater unit (JPU) and holding-tube technology. 
  • Partial preassemblies improved fabrication economics and eliminated much of the peripheral equipment that's often needed with conventional designs. 
  • Each JPU consisted of continuous, 60-metre-long “U” shape arrangements. Operationally, the new tube-heater design also greatly simplified cleaning. 
  • The 2012 expansion project added 143% to Yarwun’s initial capacity, with a new nameplate capacity of 3.4 MTPA. 


  • This was the largest implementation of tube digestion in a greenfield plant.
  • The project was marked by a fast commissioning and ramp-up phase.
  • The integrated execution team had a principal EPCM contractor, client-streamlined engineering, and procurement interfaces.
  • Key project milestones were achieved.

Project Numbers

60 m long, U-shaped JPU 
3.4 MTPA alumina plant 
A$2.0 billion alumina refinery expansion 
40+ multidisciplinary personnel 

Services & technologies provided

Alumina and Bauxite
Alumina Tube Digestion

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