WEIPA, Australia, March 8 (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto said on Friday that its $1.9 billion Amrun bauxite mine in northern Australia is set to enter full production after finishing its ramp-up phase, boosting output at its Weipa operations by more than a third.

Rio Tinto produces about 50 million tonnes of the aluminium raw material globally, accounting for around 15 percent of world supply.

The Amrun mine will produce 22.8 million tonnes at full production, and take Rio’s bauxite output at Weipa on Australia’s northern tip to 35 million tonnes a year, the company said.

“The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 million tonnes, at a time when higher grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally,” Rio Chief Executive JS Jacques said in a statement.

Amrun, which was approved in November 2015, had originally been expected to begin production and shipping in the first half of 2019 and hit full production by the end of the year. reut.rs/2ETI9Xp

In what it called an industry first, Rio Tinto was able to cut construction time by a year as the 1 km-long (0.6-mile) export facility was built in modules off-site and then brought to Amrun and hooked up, rather than having all the construction done over-water.

Bauxite mining has taken place at Weipa for more than 50 years, and the new mine will extend the operations for another 50 years, Jacques said.

Aluminium, a lightweight metal, is used in mobile phones and transportation like planes and trucks.

“Aluminium is one of the fastest growing base metals in the world. We forecast demand to grow steadily and remain robust,” Jacques said.

The first shipment from the mine sailed in December.