Point Henry smelter to close, 1,000 jobs to go

Speculation
about the future of the Point Henry Alcoa smelter in Geelong has ended this
morning, with news that the 50-year-old site will close in August.

The
Australian
reports that 500 jobs will be lost with the closure of the smelter,
which has been the subject of a company review since February 2012. A further 500
jobs will also be shed with the closure of an adjacent rolling mill and another
rolling mill in Yennora, NSW.

The ABC
reports that Alcoa’s managing director and chairman Alan Cransberg is briefing
employees this morning.

“We recognise how deeply this
decision impacts employees at the affected facilities and are committed to
supporting them through this transition,” the ABC reports Klaus Kleinfeld, company chief executive officer, as saying.

“Despite the hard work of the
local teams these assets are no longer competitive and are not financially
sustainable today or into the future.”

The smelter was granted $40 million in 2012 by the then Gillard federal government and the Victorian government to
continue operating until June this year.

Last month there were predictions that the site would close soon, after Alcoa’s communications manager said the company
would not be seeking further assistance.

The news will add to Geelong’s difficulties,
with Ford to close in 2016 and the future of the nearby Shell refinery in
jeopardy.

“Their job
prospects are terrible,” the AWU’s Ben Davis said of the workers who will lose
their jobs.

“Geelong is becoming
a manufacturing disaster zone.”

Image: Fairfax

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