Monday, 28 January 2013 15:26
People in the remote Northern Territory town of Nhulunbuy are planning a rally on Wednesday to show resources giant Rio Tinto that "they matter".
With Rio's self-imposed deadline of 31 January for a report on the viability of their Gove alumina operations, people in the satellite town of Nhulunbuy say they are being forgotten.
Dave Suter from the Nhulunbuy Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the rally was to send a message to Rio Tinto's head office in London that people relied on the refinery staying open.
"We are bitter and twisted over here, that is for sure," Mr Suter said.
About 3500 live in Nhulunbuy, with most relying economically on the huge alumina refinery and bauxite mine run by Rio Tinto subsidiary Pacific Aluminium.
But the high Australian dollar, low alumina prices and the plant's reliance on expensive diesel fuel have meant the refinery is losing an estimated $US30 million per month.
Pacific Aluminium has hinted that the plant could stay open if the NT government found a way to ship natural gas to Gove to replace the need for diesel.
But supplying enough gas to power the huge alumina operation could leave the NT without enough gas for domestic use.
Government efforts to cut a deal with the company or delay a decision by the miner have not succeeded.
Analysts last week predicted grim news for the people of Nhulunbuy, with several saying Rio Tinto was likely to decide to mothball the Gove refinery.
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