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Construction of the aluminium smelter began in 1979, with full production starting in 1988. Today the smelter employs over 600 people, as well as a contractual workforce of around 150 and is one of Australia's largest export earners. The facility produces 350,000 tonnes of aluminium ingot annually, most of which is exported through the Port of Portland to customers in south east Asia. Portland Aluminium injects over $100 million into the Portland region each year.
Portland Aluminium sits on just over 500 hectares of land, with smelting operations, ancillary buildings and roads occupying around 100 hectares. Traditionally, the remaining land would have been used as a buffer zone around the operations. Instead, this land was designed as a 'Smelter in the Park', with the creation of parklands around the plant for local community. Smelter in the Park is recognized worldwide as a benchmark for industrial and environmental harmony and has been used as a model for some of Alcoa's other facilities around the world.
Alcoa is committed to supporting the communities in which it operates and in 2009, Portland Aluminium supported around 70 partners, contributing more than $400,000 to fund community projects in the local region, along with in-kind and volunteer activities.