The loss-making Gove peninsula aluminium refinery and bauxite mine in Nhulunbuy, in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land, will have its fate decided tomorrow.
Around 800 people staged a rally yesterday to display their concern at the possible closure of the plant, operated by Rio Tinto subsidiary Pacific Aluminium. A closure would end 1,200 jobs at the peninsula’s major employer.
The plant, which loses an estimated $30 million each month, currently runs on diesel. Pacific is examining converting its energy supply to gas, but a pipeline would be expensive to build.
Some rally attendees said yesterday that over half of Nhulubuy’s 4000 residents could leave if the smelter is closed.
"Most of you won't be here if we don't get gas, it's as simple as that," Klaus Helms, the East Arnhem Regional Futures Alliance chairman told the ABC.
"We are going to lose up to 2,000 or 2,500 people from this community and the region.
"And we will lose them rapidly.”
The Northern Land Council has also said that the effect of Gove’s closure on the local population would be severe.
“If Pacific Aluminium’s refinery closes, all these services will go – along with the lifetime investments of ordinary Territorians,” wrote Wali Wunungmurra of the Land Council in the NT News yesterday, warning of the end of services including local schools, a hospital and local businesses.
The future of the refinery will be decided at a meeting in London today.
Image: ABC Darwin