Rio Tinto and Sumitomo to assess hydrogen pilot plant at Yarwun alumina refinery

Rio Tinto and Sumitomo to assess hydrogen pilot plant at Yarwun alumina refinery

Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corporation have announced a partnership to study the construction of a hydrogen pilot plant at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery, and explore the potential use of hydrogen at the refinery.

The two global companies have signed a letter of intent that focuses on Yarwun as the location for a Gladstone hydrogen plant that Sumitomo has been studying.

If the project proceeds, the pilot plant would produce hydrogen for the recently announced Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem.

Rio Tinto Australia Chief Executive Kellie Parker said Rio Tinto had a long relationship with Sumitomo and they were delighted to partner with them to explore the possibilities of hydrogen, not only for their own refinery, but for industry in Gladstone as a whole.

“Reducing the carbon intensity of our alumina production will be key to meeting our 2030 and 2050 climate targets,” she said.

“There is clearly more work to be done, but partnerships and projects like this are an important part of helping us get there.”

Sumitomo Corporation’s Energy Innovation Initiative Director Hajime Mori said they were excited about working with Rio Tinto as their long-term partner to develop the hydrogen project in Gladstone, and working toward their company’s vision of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We believe the pilot plant will play a significant role in establishing the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem,” he said.

“Sumitomo has commenced the Design Study and Preliminary Master Planning to build the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem, and we will continue to work towards future hydrogen exports from Gladstone.”

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said the partnership would provide important economic opportunities for the entire Central Queensland Region.

“Gladstone’s world-class deep water port, water security through Awoonga Dam, and industry attraction via the local State Development Area, have set Gladstone up to become the hydrogen capital of Australia, providing massive employment and supply chain opportunities both locally and in the Central Queensland Region,” he said.

Gladstone Regional Council Mayor Matt Burnett welcomed the partnership between Rio Tinto and Sumitomo.


“This is great news for the Gladstone Region and Central Queensland and a significant step forward in developing our hydrogen ecosystem,” Cr Burnett said.


“This investment brings together new and existing industries and ultimately means more jobs in more industries for Central Queensland.”


The Sumitomo partnership complements a recently announced feasibility study into using hydrogen to replace natural gas in the alumina refining process at Yarwun, and provides the potential for larger-scale implementation if the studies are successful.