Rio Tinto is embarking on what it claims will be Australia’s most extensive demolition initiative at the Gove alumina refinery site in the Northern Territory.
The company has initiated the shipping of a massive amount of scrap steel equivalent to three Sydney Harbour bridges or 21 Eiffel Towers for recycling purposes.
This demolition forms a pivotal part of Rio Tinto’s comprehensive closure plan for its Gove operations situated in east Arnhem Land. After over 40 years of supplying the global aluminium industry, bauxite mining operations are slated to cease later in this decade.
The inaugural shipment, comprising roughly 15,000 tonnes of scrap steel, recently departed the Gove wharf bound for Asia where it will transform new steel wire, bars, and beam products.
In total, 142,000 tonnes of steel across 10 shipments will be exported to Asia from the Gove refinery site, where the demolition process commenced last year. Additionally, around 300,000 tonnes of concrete will be repurposed for local road construction and other community ventures.
James Low, the General Manager overseeing the closure of Rio Tinto Gove, expressed, “This iconic site holds a lot of memories for the thousands of people who worked here over the last five decades. But even more significant is the immemorial connection that the Gumatj Traditional Owners have with the land. We are excited to be part of the work that returns the site to them.”
Low emphasized the crucial role of the Gumatj Traditional Owners in shaping the site’s future, indicating that they are pivotal in deciding the site’s disposition, including potential ongoing use of infrastructure like wharves and warehouses. He also highlighted the involvement of the Gumatj business arm in supplying equipment for the demolition process.
The Gove refinery, operational from 1972 to 2014, converted locally mined bauxite into alumina. In 2017, the decision was made to permanently close the refinery, prompting preparatory work for the site’s demolition and subsequent remediation efforts.