Fresh fears for smelter's future
Wed, 05 Sep 2012 6:06p.m.
By Krissy Moreau
There are fresh fears for the future of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Bluff.
Originally the plant planned to lose 100 positions over the next five years, however those jobs will be gone by November due to falling aluminium prices.
The smelter accounts for 9 percent of Southland’s GDP, with many people depending on it for business. Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt says locals are concerned.
“There are a lot of worried people out there,” he says.
Smelter general manager Ryan Cavanagh says falling world aluminium prices mean it has no choice but to cut staff.
The smelter is 79 percent owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, and is one of thirteen plants it is trying to sell.
Last month the smelter announced it wanted to renegotiate the power supply contract it has with state-owned Meridian Energy.
The contract was supposed to run until 2030 - giving the smelter cheap power and the workers secure jobs - and what the Government hoped would be a safe investment when it tried to partially privatise Meridian.
But Prime Minister John Key says he is confident the matter will be resolved.
“Look, I’m confident that things will be resolved,” he says.
The people of Southland will be hoping he is right.
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5/09/2012 6:56:03 p.m.
Why didn't you seek comment from the union? Seems the workers should have had a voice here.
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