News, Rio Tinto

Rio locks in long-term future for NZ smelter

Rio Tinto’s joint-owned Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in New Zealand will continue to produce metal after being backed by a new 20-year electricity arrangement.

The South Island-based smelter’s future was secured after New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) signed a 20-year electricity arrangement.

NZAS has signed contracts with electricity generators Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and Mercury NZ to set pricing for an aggregate of 572 megawatts of electricity to meet the smelter’s needs.

“We are pleased the long-term future of the Tiwai Point smelter has been secured with these agreements, which were reached with a genuinely collaborative spirit between all parties,” Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Jérôme Pécresse said.

“They give us confidence that our New Zealand workforce and assets can continue competitively producing the high purity, low-carbon aluminium needed for the global energy transition.

“This is an exciting new chapter, and we would like to thank everyone involved, including our new energy partners, our local Indigenous partners Ngāi Tahu, the Southland community, the New Zealand Government and our NZAS workforce for their support in getting us here today.”

Rio Tinto has also entered into an agreement to acquire Sumitomo Chemical Company’s 20.64 per cent interest in NZAS. Once completed, the acquisition will see Rio Tinto own 100 per cent of NZAS.

Annually, NZAS contributes approximately $NZ400 million ($3.6 million) to the Southland economy. The agreements are expected to commence in July of this year, and run through until at least 2044.

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