Our history

Since QMAG was founded in the mid-1980s, the operation has weathered numerous changes and challenges. We have remained a thriving business, set to continue making a sustainable difference to our customers with premium-quality magnesia products for many decades to come.

Timeline of history


Discovering the deposit

  • 1985

    Employees of Queensland Metals Corporation (QMC) discover the Kunwarara deposit, 260 million tonnes of high-grade cryptocrystalline magnesite.

    After extensive drilling, engineering consultants commence a full feasibility study.

    Magnesite site in Marlborough
  • 1986

    The Kunwarara feasibility project shows strong results – magnesite that requires only simple primary beneficiation, plus low production costs and excellent proximity to labour, energy and transport infrastructure.

    QMC and CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, establish a research laboratory and testing facility in Rockhampton.

    Aerial view of OMC’s Rockhampton Pilot Plant
  • 1987

    QMC and CSIRO establish a collaborative, long-term commercial R&D contract. It’s the first time CSIRO holds shares in a publicly listed company.

    The Queensland Government establishes the Magnesium Task Force to develop the magnesite resources.

  • 1989

    ‘QMAG’ is registered as a product name.

    Local contractors, Kinhill Engineers Pty Ltd, complete an A$6.6 million infrastructure feasibility study and produce project plans.

    The capital required to construct the mine, beneficiation plant, plus processing plant and ancillary facilities is estimated at A$154 million.

    Davy McKee Pacific Pty Ltd wins the tender for EPCM contractor for the Parkhurst plant construction.


Shaping infrastructure and Expanding operations

  • 1990

    Mining and processing infrastructure construction at Kunwarara and Parkhurst begins in March.

    QMAG begins researching key product lines, forming key international customer relationships and financing working capital.

    Laying refractory bricks in MHF
  • 1991

    QMC commissions the Kunwarara ore beneficiation and magnesite processing plants.

    Full mining operations commence at Kunwarara in April, with the completion of the pre-concentration and upgrading beneficiation plant on site.

    The natural gas pipeline from Gladstone is completed and connected to the Parkhurst plant in May.

    Phase 1 processing facilities near completion – the first two production lines for 67,000 Mtpa. of deadburned and 12,000 Mtpa of electrofused magnesia.

    First deadburned magnesia production
  • 1992

    Queensland Premier Mr Wayne Goss officially opens the QMAG Parkhurst plant.

    The company’s first deadburned magnesia shipments go to Asia, Europe and the USA from the port of Gladstone.

    The ‘Billion Dollar Rock’ documentary about QMAG airs on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship science programme, Quantum.

    Construction and commissioning of the second multiple-hearth furnace and shaft kiln are completed.

  • 1994/95

    The majority of large refractory brick makers throughout the world are now using QMAG products.

    QMC buys out Radex Australia to own 60% of QMAG shares.

    7-day operations commence at the mine site.

  • 1996

    QMC becomes the sole owner of the Queensland Magnesia Project (QMAG), with overwhelming support from shareholders.

    Capital investment in a third shaft kiln is approved to increase deadburned magnesia output by 50%.

    Expansion work begins on the Kunwarara ore sorting facilities.

    QMAG grows to 194 permanent full-time and contracted operational and administrative staff.

  • 1997

    Kunwarara’s optical ore-sorting facilities are completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

    QMC introduces a wider range of lower-grade refractory and non-refractory magnesia products.


Securing market presence

  • 1998

    Refractory sales volumes increase by 48% from the previous year to 131,000 tonnes with the third vertical shaft kiln coming on line.

    Calcined magnesia sales volumes increase by 35% from the previous year to 15,880 tonnes.

    Mine yields are improved to 13.4% from 7.1%, and sustained over the whole year.

    Magnesite reserves increase by 28% to 40.7 million tonnes, thanks to additional drilling and exploration.

  • 1999

    The first bulk magnesite shipment of 20,000 tonnes is delivered.

    Two large test pits are mined at the KG2 site at Kunwarara as part of mine development planning.

    Operations commence at the KG3 open-pit mine.

  • 2000

    Mining operations commence at the KG2 open-pit mine, and a second pre-concentration plant comes online at the KG2 site for crushing, scrubbing and screening ore.

  • 2001

    Record sales volumes and output through the Kunwarara mine and Parkhurst plant, with exports to the USA and Europe accounting for more than 90% of DBM and EFM sales.

  • 2004

    QMAG is sold to Resource Capital Funds, a United States-based investment fund, forming QMAG Ltd.

  • 2006

    QMAG purchases the Yaamba deposit, a satellite mine approximately 30 km south of the Kunwarara pits.

  • 2010

    The third multiple hearth furnace comes online at Parkhurst, after an A$ 42-million expansion.

    The installation increases calcination capacity to 300,000 Mtpa.

    Yaamba deposit mining commences; the ore is primarily used for DBM production.

  • 2011

    In September 2011, Resource Capital Funds announces its intention to sell QMAG to Sibelco.

  • 2012

    The Belgium-based company, SCR-Sibelco NV, acquires 100% of QMAG from Resource Capital Funds on 2 April.

  • 2013–2017

    Soaring local energy costs, struggling markets, active competition from China and logistics issues mean QMAG operations suffer setbacks and kiln shut-downs.

    The main focus of operations is put on improving yields and plant efficiencies, with some internal restructuring and employee layoffs.

  • 2018–2019

    Sales of EFM and DBM improve, with all furnaces, kilns and production lines running at Parkhurst again.

  • 2020

    Refratechnik, a global refractory supplier headquartered in Germany, acquires 100% of QMAG Ltd. shares in March 2020.

  • 2021

    QMAG battles the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions, demonstrating resilience.


Celebrating 30 years and a strong future

  • 2022

    QMAG celebrates 30 years of operation, with festivities including current and previous employees and their families.

  • 2023

    A new container loadout facility at Parkhurst is commissioned, doubling container export capacity for high-grade CCM products.

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