The Northern Territory government has again asked the commonwealth to provide funds to help bail out the ailing community of Nhulunbuy in east Arnhem Land, but so far nothing has been committed.
Rio Tinto announced on Tuesday it would add another $50 million over the next five years to its support package for the region to help attract new economic activity and support the community’s transition, after it announced late last year it would be winding down its operations at its alumina refinery at neighbouring Gove.
A total of 1200 jobs will go, hitting the town of 4000 residents hard.
Nhulunbuy would continue to be a centre for NT government services, Chief Minister Adam Giles said.
He said the Territory government would spend more than $1 billion on essential services over the next five years, including health, education and policing, with $330 million to be spent before the end of this financial year.
A total of $272 million would be spent on services, grants and infrastructure, $58 million on public sector wages, $66.5 million for local roads, $14.4 million in housing contracts, $7.3 million for new community facilities and $5.46 million for education services.
“Yesterday I again asked the federal government to put some money on the table; they haven’t as yet,” Mr Giles told reporters on Tuesday.
Rio Tinto said its bauxite operation would contribute more than $500 million to the east Arnhem area over the next five years, and said it would create a regional economic development fund, as well as a fund to support sports and the arts, and community events and organisations.
Rio has offered to help boost indigenous-run businesses and to support new economic activities such as potential mining operations on Aboriginal land.
Mr Giles said he was happy with the package Rio had offered.
“It’s not just about the headline figure of $50 million, it’s about the escalation of works, bringing works forward for environmental rehabilitation, ensuring we get more traditional owners employed, ramping up bauxite operations, and we’re seeing a turnaround in the economy from what it was projected to be, which is a positive step forward.”
Alumina production at Rio’s Gove refinery is expected to be complete by August.