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Pacific Aluminium stalls discussions on Gove alumina refinery

Monday, Aug 26, 2013

Pacific Aluminium is stalling on discussions about the future of the Gove alumina refinery and won't meet the Territory Government until at least mid-September.

In parliament yesterday, Chief Minister Adam Giles said he had requested a meeting "as soon as possible" to discuss the Government's latest gas supply offer with Phillip Strachan, the acting chief executive and president of the Rio Tinto subsidiary.

In the meantime, the East Arnhem town of Nhulunbuy continues to hold its breath in hope that a deal can be struck to save the 1500 jobs linked to the refinery and mining operations.

A Pacific Aluminium spokesman said they would eventually meet with Mr Giles to discuss Gove.

"However, to ensure the discussion is valuable for both of us, we need some time to consider the gas supply options," the spokesman said yesterday."

The offer on the table includes 175 petajoules of gas from the NT Government and 78 petajoules from Santos Energy and would require the operation of the refinery on a dual fuel basis.

Mr Giles outlined the details of the offer, revealed by the NT News last week, to parliament yesterday.

He said in a statement afterwards that Pacific Aluminium "will recommence negotiations with NT Government after the federal election result is finalised".

"The Federal Coalition has promised to underwrite the building of the gas pipeline to Gove. Labor won't give the same commitment," Mr Giles said.

Resources minister Gary Gray has called on the Territory Government to reinstate the initial offer, announced by former chief minister Terry Mills in February.

The caretaker period prevents the Government from any making firm decisions, but Mr Gray has said the Export Finance Insurance Corporation would need to complete due diligence before guaranteeing to help finance the pipeline.

East Arnhem Chamber of Commerce chairman David Suter said he found it "strange" there was not going to be a dialogue.

Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker called on Mr Giles to "immediately go to Gove and explain to the community what the situation is" for its future.

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