Federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane and NT chief minister Adam Giles will meet with Arnhem Land locals and businesses today over the fate of the Gove alumina refinery.
The loss-making Pacific Aluminium plant, owned by Rio Tinto, could have its operations suspended, among four other options its owner has told employees that it is considering.
The Northern Territory recently reneged on a deal made by former chief minister Terry Mills, who announced in February that 300 petajoules from the government’s gas supplies would be made available to Gove over a decade.
Mills’s successor Giles has revised this so a lesser amount of 175 petajoules will be supplied over the period.
Locals have concerns about whether or not the refinery, which is the major local employer, will stay open.
“It’s just an ongoing concern for everybody at the moment as to what the mining company’s decision is going to be so, basically a lot of people are saying ‘bring it on, make a decision’ so that we can get on with our lives,” said David Suter from East Arnhem Chamber of Commerce.
The federal government is considering underwriting a loan to build a gas pipeline to the refinery, which is currently powered by diesel, which is more expensive.
Macfarlane has said that the long-term future of Gove would need to be guaranteed.
“In terms of giving the community the confidence it needs I think that’s the very least we can ask, there’s no point in us having this conversation again in five years time and again five years after that,” Macfarlane said, according to the ABC.