In the early 1950s Australia mined little bauxite and produced no alumina, that being the chemically pure aluminium oxide which is extracted from bauxite and then smelted in electric furnaces to produce aluminium metal. The huge costs of aluminium production meant that, after World War II, six large companies dominated the aluminium industry worldwide, from mining bauxite through to fabricating and selling metal. These were Alcoa, Reynolds Metals and Kaiser in the United States, Alcan in Canada, Pechiney in France and Alusuisse in Switzerland. In the 1940s the Chifley government planned a small aluminium smelter in Tasmania largely for defence purposes, and originally dependent on imported bauxite. Government co-operation with industry to search for indigenous bauxite feedstock for the smelter saw two discoveries of bauxite at about the same time in northern Australia in the 1950s-the first at Gove in the Northern Territory and the second, much larger find, across the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland. These two discoveries and the proving of bauxite deposits of commercial grade in Western Australia a few years later meant that Australia possessed an astonishing one third of the world's bauxite by the early 1960s.
Field of Research
210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) 2103 Historical Studies 2101 Archaeology
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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