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P: 07 3028 2000 F: 07 3028 2013


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Although Rio Tinto Alcan have decided to suspend alumina production at its Gove, Northern Territory refinery, it still intends to keep mining bauxite at the adjacent mine site. There are around 350 employees and contractors employed at the bauxite mine that has been operating at the site for the last 30 years. However, the closure of the refinery will see the loss of up to 600 jobs and seriously effect the town of Nhulunbuy which has a population of 4,000 and supplies the majority of workers and contractors who operate the refinery.

Gove Complex Owned by Rio Tinto Through Pacific Aluminum
The Gove bauxite mining complex includes the open cut mine, the alumina refinery, residue disposal area, power station, port and ship loading facilities. It is operated by Pacific Aluminum, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto Alcan. Pacific Aluminum was established in 2011. The complex is located in north east Arnhem Land, 650 kilometres east of Darwin.

Gove Alumina Refinery Future in Doubt Since 2012
The future of the refinery at Gove was placed in doubt in 2012 as the cost of producing electricity to run the plant increased substantially. To find a way out of the dire situation Rio Tinto entered into negotiations with the Northern Territory Government to arrange a long term gas supply to the site. It was suggested at the time that the then Federal Government underwrite the cost of providing a gas pipeline to the refinery. This was agreed to in late 2012 and it was announced in early 2013 by the Northern Territory Government that up to 300 petajoules of low price gas would be supplied to Gove for the next ten years. This gas was to come from the Northern Territory's domestic supply source.

However, the Northern Territory Government recently reneged on the agreement, a change of direction that meant Rio Tinto would have to rely on producing power in the same way through its own high cost diesel powered power station. Rio Tinto have since decided that low alumina prices and the high value of the Australian dollar in comparison to the US dollar have made continuing with the operating of the refinery uneconomic. It has therefore dropped plans to shift to gas power and has decided to suspend alumina refining altogether.

The Northern Territory Government has claimed its earlier offer of supplying 300 petajoules of gas had not been signed up to and therefore offered 195 petajoules of gas over 15 years instead, claiming it lessened the risk the government was exposing itself to. The supply of gas to the Gove Complex would have required the construction of a 600 kilometre pipeline at a cost of around $800 million.

Gove Bauxite of High Quality
The bauxite deposit at Gove is of a high grade burnished red ore and found close to the surface. It has a very high aluminium oxide content and is refined on-site using the Bayer Process. Once the ore is processed into alumina it is shipped off to Canada for smelting into aluminium. The mine has been producing bauxite for over 30 years and it has a further 30 years still to go before known reserves are exhausted. It produces over 8.2 million tonnes of bauxite a year which is refined into 2.65 million tonnes of alumina.

The Gove bauxite mine commenced operation in the 1970's and it produces over seven million tonnes of bauxite annually. In 2011 it produced 7.246 million tonnes that produced 2.549 million tonnes of alumina. Both the Gove mine and refinery work 24 hours a day seven days a week. As any given area becomes mined out it is immediately rehabilitated with the stored sub soil and top soil being replaced. It is then seeded with native plants and monitored as nature is left to finish the job. There are bauxite resources totalling 216 million tonnes remaining at the Gove mine site to be developed. 170 million tonnes are JORC code compliant with a grading of almost 50 percent alumina.

Pacific Aluminium

Pacific Aluminium is headquartered in Brisbane, Queensland and boasts five operations within Australia and New Zealand. It is one of the worlds most renowned producers of high quality aluminium products.The company’s assets include Boyne Smelters Limited located in Queensland, the Gladstone more


Pacific Aluminium
Level 3, 500 Queen Street
Brisbane, QLD 4001

level 3, 500 queen street
brisbane, QLD 4001


Phone07 3028 2000
fax07 3028 2013

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