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Rio Tinto recently announced it will move to suspend alumina production at Gove in Australia’s Northern Territory and focus on its bauxite operations, after determining the refinery is no longer a viable business in the current market environment. The company announced it will now work on the scope and phased timing of suspension and prepare for all potential outcomes over the coming months. The company intends to work closely with the Northern Territory government, the Australian government, traditional owners, and all other stakeholders to minimize the impact of this change for Nhulunbuy and the region. Establishing a long-term plan for the bauxite operation and its employees will reportedly be the key to retaining a sustainable business in the local area.
Key factors reportedly influencing the decision were continuing low alumina prices, a high exchange rate and substantial after-tax losses for the refinery, despite considerable efforts to improve refinery performance during that time.
“This is a very sad day for everyone associated with Gove,” said Sam Walsh, chief executive. “It has been an extremely difficult decision, and we recognize it will have a significant impact on our employees, the local community and the Northern Territory. There is no doubt it is a challenging path ahead. We are working in partnership with the Northern Territory and Australian Governments, the broader community and traditional owners to identify initiatives to create new opportunities for the people of Nhulunbuy. We have a firm belief in the potential of the bauxite operation, a quality asset with a long-term future.”
For more information, visit www.riotinto.com.