Rio Tinto’s struggling alumina refinery in the Northern Territory is a step closer to closing after the miner confirmed it will not be converting it to gas.
Rio confirms it will not be launching gas conversion works at the Gove refinery despite over a year of talks with the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments.
''Plans to convert the alumina refinery to gas will no longer proceed, and Rio Tinto is now considering future options around the alumina refinery in the Northern Territory,'' the company said.
Rio said it will continue mining bauxite in the region “under all scenarios”, SMH reports.
''There will be no change to refinery operations until a decision on the future of the refinery has been made. Rio Tinto will be consulting with employees and the community in the coming weeks and will advise all stakeholders about its decision at the earliest opportunity,'' the company said.
''The Australian and Northern Territory governments on both sides of politics have worked tirelessly with Rio Tinto over recent months endeavouring to secure a long-term future for the refinery.
''At this time, there is nothing more that could reasonably be expected to be done by either government to support the business case for gas.''
The Northern Territory government said it is firming up a contingency plan if the mining major decides to close the plant.
Chief Minister Adam Giles said Rio Tinto briefed the NT cabinet on Monday, reiterating the government has done all it can to make the operation commercially viable.
But the refinery which processes bauxite from local deposits has been reportedly running at a loss for years.
Earlier this year, Rio Tinto warned its 1500 strong refinery workforce that it was considering scaling back operations at the Gove operation.