Rio Tinto restarts potline at New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter

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Image credit: twitter.com/RioTinto

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has joined Rio Tinto Aluminium chief operating officer Kellie Parker to officially re-open Potline 4 at New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS), which was shut down in 2012 due to historically low aluminium prices and higher energy cost. 

NZAS, the country’s only aluminium smelter, is located on Tiwai Peninsula, across the harbour from the community of Bluff in Southland. Owned by Rio Tinto Group (79.36%) and the Sumitomo Group (20.64%), the facility imports alumina and processes it into primary aluminium, providing work for around 900 employees and contractors.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief operating officer Pacific Operations Kellie Parker said the $4,1 million investment, which was jointly founded with Sumitomo, will allow the business to meet the demand from customers for their value added products.

“Restarting this potline will increase the smelter’s production capacity by around 10 per cent and, with increased orders for other products, has created 45 jobs,” Ms Parker noted.

NZAS CEO and general manager Stew Hamilton said the investment is underpinned by the strong market for NZAS’ products, significant enhancements in the competitiveness of the smelter and a new partnership with Meridian Energy to provide additional clean hydro energy until 2022.

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“We produce aluminium with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. This is incredibly important to many of our manufacturing customers and helps them to meet the expectations of consumers buying products like computers, cars, food and drinks,” Mr Hamilton continued.

“I am proud to announce that NZAS will soon undergo the rigorous Aluminium Stewardship Initiative certification process. This will extend our leadership on responsible production by providing independent verification that our metal meets the highest environmental, social and governance standards.”

“Rio Tinto is the first in the industry to be able to produce ASI Certified Aluminium through its smelters in Canada, and once NZAS is also certified, this ground-breaking product will be available to customers in all markets.”

Image credit: twitter.com/RioTinto