A deal to stimulate growth
Rio Tinto’s management team were acutely aware of the challenges that lay ahead for the region following the refinery’s curtailment.
In 2014 the company partnered with the Northern Territory Government to fund the establishment of the independent not-for-profit company Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL). One of many initiatives aimed at supporting the community through the changes, DEAL was created to drive economic diversification and stimulate new opportunities in the region. Rio Tinto and the Government injected A$2 million each in seed funding to get DEAL off the ground.
“The region, rich in natural and cultural resources, has a bright and vibrant future where the Yolngu land owners, together with residents of the vibrant town of Nhulunbuy, have the opportunity to create jobs and sustainable business and to ensure all benefit from this extraordinary part of the Territory,” said Michael Gunner, Northern Territory chief minister.
“The Northern Territory is working closely with DEAL and the Regional Economic Development Committee to progress a range of smaller and larger scale projects which will position the region for prosperity into the future.”
Finding ways to stimulate business growth outside the mining sector was key to securing a sustainable future.
The town had been relatively reliant on mining, and the refinery’s curtailment created both direct and indirect impacts. With fewer people living in town there was concern that local businesses would suffer, and the community found themselves contemplating the town’s future.
“The rationale to fund DEAL’s establishment alongside the Government was to create an independent entity focused on sustainable economic development opportunities beyond mining,” said Ryan Skehan, principal adviser Economic Development in Rio Tinto’s Aluminium business.