Rio Tinto warns that Gove operations could be suspended

The operations of Rio Tinto’s troubled Gove aluminium refinery in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, are at risk of being suspended.

The operations of Rio Tinto’s troubled Gove aluminium refinery in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, are at risk of being suspended.

The fate of the site, which employs 1580 of Nhulunbuy’s 4000 or so residents, should be known at the end of January. It produces over 8.2 million tonnes of bauxite and 2.65 million tonnes of alumina per year.

Gove, part of Rio’s Pacific Aluminium division, was placed under review in October last year, reported in Manufacturers’ Monthly and elsewhere.

A Northern Territory government taskforce was announced in September to consider the viability of converting Gove to a gas power supply and establishing a pipeline to the site.

“Pacific Aluminium is also considering the option of increasing bauxite exports in parallel with continued operation of the refinery,” a spokesperson from the company told The Australian Financial Review.

“The other option being considered by the review is a suspension of refinery operations until economic conditions improve.”

A combination of the high Australian dollar, expensive energy costs and a low price for alumina has put the viability of Pacific under strain.