Gove aerial shot

Gove

Bauxite

Product

11.5Mt

Production

100%

Ownership

1971

Started

2022 figures

Our Gove site in Australia’s Northern Territory has been supplying the global aluminium industry with world-class bauxite for more than 40 years.

Gove bauxite is shipped internationally as well as domestically to supply Queensland Alumina Limited and Yarwun refineries in Gladstone, Queensland. These refineries produce alumina as feedstock for our Australian aluminium smelting operations and for sale on the international market.

We expect our bauxite mining operations in the Gove Peninsula will cease later this decade and we are doing significant work to support closure of the operation.

Exploring the Gove closure programme

As part of the closure activities, in December 2022, the Gumatj clan held a Welcome to Country onsite at our Aluminium Refinery for its demolition. The Bungul, a ceremony of music, song and dance from the Gumatj people, told a story of the land and the significance of this project.

The Gove Alumina refinery’s history is unique and personal to many employees and local community members. The first day of production took place in 1972, and at the time all eyes were on the small town of Nhulunbuy. But the history of the land where the operation is established has stories, memories and song lines that go back multiple generations.

Closure is a significant investment, which we must get right to ensure economic development and opportunities to the local community. We are committed to continuing to work in deep partnership with the Traditional Owners. We share in and support their vision to see the local region rejuvenated so that it becomes a place to share the rich culture, and a business and services hub for all of Arnhem Land.

- Kellie Parker, Rio Tinto Australia Chief Executive

The refinery demolition lead by Liberty Industrial is one of the largest demolition projects in Australia, taking approximately ten 10 years to complete with ongoing environmental monitoring.

  • Gove’s Refinery demolition project in the Northern Territory is Australia’s largest demolition activity. The refinery is being dismantled and in total, 142,000 tonnes of scrap steel will be progressively shipped for recycling.
  • Part of the Gove Refinery is demolished by teams from contract partner Liberty Industrial. Scrap steel from the demolition will be shipped to a recycling plant and turned into steel wire, bar and beam stock and sold to industry.
  • A truck loaded with debris from Gove’s refinery demolition drives to the ship, bound for a Malaysian recycling plant. It takes 6 trucks working 24 hours a day for 6 days to load the 15,000 tonnes of steel cargo.
  • At our recently upgraded wharf in Gove, a trailer load of steel is lowered into a container ship. The ship will transport 15,000 tonnes of scrap steel to a recycling facility in Malaysia.
  • One of 4 loading bays in the container ship is loaded with scrap steel from the Gove refinery project, the largest demolition activity in the country. In total, the equivalent of 21 Eiffel towers worth of steel will be recycled.
  • Gove’s refinery demolition will produce more than 142,000 tonnes of scrap steel. It will take around 10 shipments to transport it for recycling back into steel wire, bar and beam stock.
  • A fully laden container ship ready to leave our wharf at Gove, bound for a recycling plant in Malaysia. On board, there’s around 15,000 tonnes of scrap steel from our refinery demolition project.

Innovation at Gove

We consult with Traditional Owners and other stakeholders about opportunities beyond the life of our operations in the region.

As part of our engagement with Traditional Owners in preparation for closure, we use technology to illustrate future rehabilitation processes and give insight into how the land may look in the future. This gives Traditional Owners the opportunity to see their future aspirations and share their feedback with us. 

Gove communities

Our Gove site has been supporting local communities on the Gove Peninsula for more than 40 years. As one of the largest employers in the region, our local sponsorships and donations program provides financial and in-kind investments that enrich the region and maintain the community’s unique vibrancy.

Some of these projects include our decade-long sponsorship of the Yothu Yindu Foundation’s Garma Festival, and, for more than 30 years, our ongoing support of the Nhulunbuy Community Beach Volleyball Competition.

How are we supporting our community?

Our Gove site has a funding programme currently available for not for profit groups.

Gove sponsorships and donations program

Our sponsorship and donations program offers support to community and not for profit groups through the provision of financial and in-kind contributions for activities that enhance the livability and community vibrancy across the Gove Peninsula. This program runs year-round.

Gove sponsorships & donations

Gove Sponsorships and Donations Funding Program Guidelines
PDF
709 KB
Gove Sponsorships and Donations Funding Program Application Form
DOCX
44 KB
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Communities

We know our operations can have far-reaching impacts on society.

  • Cultural heritage
  • Land agreements
  • Supporting local Indigenous businesses
  • Economic development

Cultural heritage

The Indigenous people of North East Arnhem land, the Yolngu, have lived in the region for more than 65,000 years and practise one of the longest living traditional cultures in the world.

Our Gove site – including the township of Nhulunbuy – is located on Aboriginal land. We acknowledge the significant value Yolngu place on their heritage and Country, and work in partnership with them throughout the mining process to manage this. We manage cultural heritage and sacred sites as legislated by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA).

Our lease areas contain a wide range of cultural heritage features and values. They can be tangible, such as landscapes and artefacts, and intangible, such as language, music and customary practice. All heritage features and values are considered as being of equal value. If a site or an object is identified as significant, it is protected from mining.

For example, in 2022, 111 hectares of land were surveyed across the Gove mining lease with the Gumatj and Rirratjingu Traditional Owners to protect and preserve sites and story places.

Land agreements

In 2011 we signed the Gove Traditional Owners Agreement with the Gumatj, Rirratjingu and Galpu Traditional Owners. We are the first operator in the region to sign an agreement with Traditional Owners.

The historic agreement provides mutual benefits including economic development, employment and training, land and environmental management, financial benefits, protection of cultural and significant sites and contracting business opportunities.

Supporting local Indigenous businesses

Supporting Yolngu business development forms an integral part of the Gove Traditional Owners Agreement. As the planned closure of the Gove Alumina Refinery and Residue Disposal Area progresses, our focus is to provide opportunities directly and indirectly to local and Indigenous businesses in the East Arnhem region. We do this through local procurement, partnerships and training.

Our operations are located on Indigenous-owned land and, in 2018, we became a customer of the Gulkula mine – Australia’s first 100% Indigenous run and owned bauxite mine, wholly owned by the Gumatj clan. We buy bauxite from Gulkula and export it nationally and internationally through our port. In May 2018, senior Traditional Owners of the Gumatj clan witnessed the first shipment of their bauxite to China from Rio Tinto’s export wharf at Gove.

In addition, adjacent to the mine, the Gumatj Corporation has established the Gulkula Regional Training Centre with funding support from Rio Tinto, and the Australian and Northern Territory governments, which allows local Indigenous people to receive on-the-job training to build careers in mining and other related industries.

We spend approximately A$50 million each year on a wide a range of goods and services provided by local Indigenous businesses including earthworks and construction, fencing, maintenance, waste management, heritage services and environmental and land rehabilitation services.

We also collaborate with the local communities and an example of this is our work with a Yolngu business to undertake mine rehabilitation. Local Yolngu collect native seed on the mining lease prior to mining, which is then used for the seeding of rehabilitated areas after mining. Each year, the Yolngu collect more than 400 kilograms of native seeds and more than 15,000 native plants are grown in our regeneration nursery. They are then used to rehabilitate around 120 hectares of land.

We also strive to increase local Indigenous employment for local Yolngu people and provide training opportunities to create employment opportunities beyond mining.

Economic development

We were acutely aware of the challenges that lay ahead for the region following the curtailment of the Gove Alumina Refinery in 2013. In 2014, we partnered with the Northern Territory Government to fund the establishment of the independent not-for-profit company Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL), created to drive economic diversification and stimulate new opportunities in the region. Rio Tinto and the Government provided A$2 million each in seed funding.

Access to housing was identified as a key constraint to growth in the town; businesses could not expand because there was not enough affordable rental housing to accommodate new employees. To address this, Rio Tinto provided DEAL with 250 residential properties previously used for refinery workers.

Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL)

To help create broader employment opportunities, DEAL established an Economic Development Fund to finance business growth projects to deliver sustainable job outcomes for the region. 

DEAL’s focus is to link private enterprise, industry, community and government agencies to support economic diversification and growth in the East Arnhem region for the benefit of the regional population. This is achieved through projects across the tourism, health, retail, marine services, education and training, construction and hospitality industries.

Gove downloads

Gove Gulkula Haulage Fact Sheet
PDF
173 KB
Gove Special Mining Lease
PDF
3.92 MB
Gove Mining Ordinance
PDF
1.45 MB
Gove Pilotage Standards Manual
PDF
916 KB

Contact Gove

Office

1 Melville Bay Road
Nhulunbuy NT 0880
Australia