Bell Bay smelter clocks up 60 years

Tasmania’s Bell Bay smelter, reportedly the oldest aluminium smelter in the southern hemisphere, is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

The Rio Tinto Alcan site is one of the state’s biggest employers in its manufacturing sector, with a claimed 1,500 direct and indirect jobs attached to it.

It produces ingot, block and T-bar aluminium, according to its website. The plant has remained competitive, despite high transport costs due to its location, in various ways. It underwent a significant restructure in 2012.

“We've certainly learned how to take more risks with our operation in terms of the raw materials that we buy and the products that we try," managing director Ray Mostogl told the ABC.

"We've chased different markets to sell metal, we send metal now to China.

The smelter, about 45 km from Launceston, secured a new deal on power with the Tasmanian government in May. It also announced investments at the time worth $30 million, and Mostogl said he was confident about the site’s future in "the medium term".

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