New Status for Australia's Northern Territory Projects

Three projects, with the ability to boost Australia's alumina exports by almost half a billion dollars and deliver $2.5 billion worth of investment to remote regions of the Northern Territory, have been earmarked as projects of national significance.

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, announced Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status for the Alcan Gove Expansion Project, the Trans Territory Pipeline Project and the Blacktip Gas Project.

"The Gove refinery is one of the largest industries in the NT and a major contributor to its economy. Alcan has been in the Top End for more than 30 years, demonstrating a long standing commitment to the Gove operation and local community," Mr. Macfarlane said.

The $1.5 billion expansion of Alcan's Gove operations in northeast Arnhem Land will increase alumina capacity from 2 million tons to 3.5 million tons per annum by 2007, and will boost Australian alumina exports by some $450 million per year.

"Currently Alcan Gove lacks access to natural gas as an energy source, the intention is to supply the refinery with a clean, efficient fuel and bring about a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions. The expansion will also employ new technology to improve overall performance and the sustainable use of raw materials," said Mr. Macfarlane.

The combined Trans Territory Pipeline and Blacktip projects will be the first in the Northern Territory to deliver offshore gas to a domestic consumer. Natural gas will be delivered from the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, some 245 km from Darwin, to Alcan's Gove alumina refinery and associated bauxite mine.

The development of the Blacktip gas field is being undertaken by Woodside Energy Ltd and ENI Australia BV. Natural gas will be extracted from the offshore field and transferred by subsea and underground pipeline for onshore processing at Wadeye.

The gas will then be transported 970 km from Wadeye to Gove via an underground pipeline. The sponsors of this pipeline project are Alcan, Woodside and ENI.

"Many jobs will be generated by these projects, it's also an opportunity to provide the region with access to reliable energy and improved communication links. But the projects will require considerable Australian and Northern Territory Government approvals," he said.

Invest Australia will now work with the partners to provide information and advice on gaining all necessary government, environmental and community approvals. Through the MPF service, Invest Australia identifies the sequence and timings for key approvals and also the relevant government programs that may assist the project.