Gove gets government gas help

The Northern Territory government is creating a taskforce to examine piping gas to Rio Tinto’s troubled Pacific Aluminium refinery, The Australian reports.

NT Chief Minister Terry Mills has not mentioned government assistance in the way of funding, but has stated that the refinery and mine are important local employers.

“Downgrading of existing operations could potentially devastate towns and communities in the East Arnhem region,” he told The Australian.

The government’s taskforce would look at the viability of a gas pipeline and corridor. One possible site for gas suggested has been the Timor Sea’s Blacktip Field, but it may not be used.

“It looks like we've got six years' gas available; you need at least 10 years' gas supply to build a commercial case for the pipeline,” said Mills.

“Converting the Gove refinery to gas will significantly improve Pacific Aluminium's economic and environmental position and underpin the long-term operating life of the refinery.”

The Gove refinery and bauxite mine, in north-east Arnhem Land, has lost over $100 million in the first half of the year and has announced plans to cut staff, with suggestions it may be closed down. It is the main source of employment for nearby Nhulunbuy, population 3,800.