The Aluminium smelter at Bell Bay on the East Tamar near George Town, Tasmania, was the first to be built in the southern hemisphere. Construction began in 1950 as a joint project between the state and commonwealth governments to secure a supply of aluminium for defence purposes. The first shipment of bauxite arrived in 1954. Alumina production began in February 1955. The first ingot of aluminium was poured in September 1955. Comalco Industries Pty Ltd aquired the smelter in 1961. Comalco is now wholly owned by Rio Tinto Alcan.