Rio Tinto begins Australia’s largest ever demolition project at Gove

Truck preparing to load scrap steel onto the first 10 shipments from the Gove demolition.
Truck preparing to load scrap steel onto the first 10 shipments from the Gove demolition.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is undertaking the largest demolition project in Australia’s history at its Gove alumina refinery where the equivalent of three Sydney Harbour bridges in steel will be shipped and recycled.

This demolition is part of the broader closure program at Rio’s Gove operations where bauxite mining is expected to stop later this decade.

The first shipment, which contains around 15kt of scrap steel, recently left the Gove wharf for Asia to be converted into new steel wire, bar and beam products. All up, 142kt of steel in 10 shipments will be exported to Asia while 300kt of concrete will also be recycled for road construction and other projects.

Rio Tinto Gove closure general manager James Low says its exciting the site Gove sits on can be returned to Traditional Owners.

“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,” he said.

“The Gumatj are integral to what we are doing at the refinery. They are the key decision-makers for how the site will be left in the future, including whether infrastructure like the wharfs and warehouses will be handed over for ongoing use.”

Gove has been supplying the global aluminium industry for more than 40 years with bauxite shipped internationally and domestically to supply Queensland Alumina and Yarwun refineries in Queensland. These refineries produce alumina smelting operations and for sale on the international market.

As well as being Australia’s largest demolition project, it’s also one of the largest underway around the world. Liberty Industrial is leading the demolition works.

Liberty Industrial Gove refinery Gove closure project director Anthony Milanich says the company is pleased with how demolition is going so far.

“We look forward to continuing our journey with Rio Tinto and Traditional Owners who we consult and work with closely,” he said.

“This close collaboration has heled us find solutions to a number of challenges associated with a project of this size and complexity in a remote location.

“The refinery demolition and remediation project is targeting completion in 2027. Bauxite mining at Gove is planned to continue until later this decade. Rehabilitation of the broader Gove site will continue into the 2030s.”