Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024

The company has reached a new electricity supply deal with Meridian Energy that allows New Zealand's Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) at Tiwai Point in the Southland region to continue operating until the end of 2024.
Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024 Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024 Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024 Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024 Rio Tinto NZ smelter keeps lights on until end-2024

Rio Tinto's aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point in Southland, New Zealand

While talks with the New Zealand government are ongoing about addressing the smelter's high transmission costs, the power price agreement makes the smelter economically viable and competitive over the next four years.  

The extension also allows time for detailed closure studies and for NZAS to support the government and Southland community in planning for the future. 

Rio had flagged in summer 2020 it was planning to wind down operations by August 2021 due to high energy and transmission costs.

"Plans for eventual closure of the Tiwai Point smelter will include extensive stakeholder consultation, including within the Southland community and reflect the company's robust closure and remediation standards," the company said in a statement.

Rio Tinto holds 79.36% of the NZAS joint venture, with Sumitomo Chemical Co holding the remainder.

The plant has 1,000 staff and creates a further 1600 indirect jobs in Southland,the company added.