9 Feb 2013

NT gas plan to be considered on Monday

9:15 am on 9 February 2013

The Northern Territory cabinet will decide on Monday whether the government should release gas to Rio Tinto Ltd in a bid to keep open an alumina refinery in Arnhem Land.

In a statement from London on Thursday, NT Chief Minister Terry Mills said he was continuing negotiations with Rio Tinto managing director Sam Walsh on the Gove alumina refinery in east Arnhem Land.

Mr Mills said the cabinet discussions would include options for securing the future of Nhulunbuy (a satellite town) and releasing 300 petajoules of gas to the refinery over 10 years.

AAP reports the refinery has been making losses of about $US30 million each month and an internal review indicated it should be closed temporarily.

Pacific Aluminium has hinted it would keep the refinery open if the plant were converted to gas and the NT unconditionally guaranteed 10 years supply.

About 3500 people live in Nhulunbuy, 1200 of whom are employed at the refinery.