Rio Tinto slashes more jobs at Queensland aluminium smelter

Image: Boyne Smelters

Rio Tinto is cutting more jobs and production at the Boyne aluminium smelter at Gladstone in Queensland.

According to Reuters, Rio, with its Boyne partners, will reduce output at the operation by 14 per cent due to a sustained increase in power prices. The move will reportedly result in job losses in excess of 100.

The diversified miner announced in January that production at the smelter would be reduced by eight per cent. The previous decision was expected to cost about 50 jobs.

However, with high power prices continuing to affect the operation, the job cuts are expected to more than double what was previously foreshadowed as the smelter lowers its annual aluminium production by about 80,000 tonnes.

Boyne Smelters released a statement in January explaining that the operation was unable to maintain full production due to sustained high power pricing, almost three times higher than the 2016 average.

The smelter sources about 85 per cent of its power from the Gladstone power station.

Boyne general manager Joe Rea said: “This is the second time in three years we’ve had to curtail production on a large scale because of uncompetitive electricity prices. BSL is paying more than 500 times more than what it costs to generate electricity.

“The decision to curtail production is a very difficult one. It takes months, not weeks, to bring the smelter back to a stable full capacity, and that can only happen if and when power prices become competitive.”

Boyne employs around 1000 people and indirectly supports about 6700 jobs nationally, with 3000 of these jobs in the Gladstone region.

Rio owns about 60 per cent of the smelter operations.

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