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Rio Tinto extends New Zealand smelter operations to 2024

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(Kitco News) - Rio Tinto reported today that it has reached an agreement on a new electricity agreement with Meridian Energy that allows New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) to continue operating the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter until December 31, 2024.

The company said that this extension provides certainty to employees, the local community and customers while providing more time for all stakeholders to plan for the future.

In July 2020, Rio Tinto announced the conclusion of a strategic review of the smelter and a decision to wind down operations by August 2021 due to high energy and transmission costs.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios commented, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Meridian Energy that will enable the Tiwai Point smelter to continue producing some of the lowest carbon aluminium in the world. This agreement improves Tiwai Point’s competitive position and secures the extension of operation to December 2024. It also provides Rio Tinto, the New Zealand government, Meridian, and the Southland community more time to plan for the future and importantly gives our hard-working team at Tiwai and our customers the certainty they deserve.”

NZAS is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (79.36%) and Sumitomo Chemical Company (20.64%). It employs around 1000 people directly and creates a further 1600 indirect jobs in Southland.

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