Tag Archives: Alf Barrios

Electricity agreement sparks new life into Tiwai Point aluminum smelter

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

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

While discussions with the New Zealand government are progressing in relation to its commitment to address the smelter’s high transmission costs, a new agreement has been reached with Meridian Energy in relation to power prices, making the smelter economically viable and competitive over the next four years, according to the miner.

The extension also provides time for detailed closure studies to be completed and for NZAS to support the government and Southland community in planning for the future.

“Plans for eventual closure of the Tiwai Point smelter will include extensive stakeholder consultation, including within the Southland community, and reflect the company’s robust closure and remediation standards,” the company said.

Rio Tinto Aluminium Chief Executive, Alf Barrios, said: “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.”

In July 2020, Rio 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.

NZAS is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (79.36%) and Sumitomo Chemical Company Ltd (20.64%). It employs around 1,000 people directly and creates a further 1,600 indirect jobs in Southland, according to Rio.

Rio Tinto’s debut Amrun bauxite shipment sets sail

Rio Tinto has completed the first shipment of bauxite from its Amrun mine in Queensland, Australia, six weeks ahead of schedule.

At a ceremony on the Western Cape York Peninsula in the far north of Queensland, more than 80,000 t of bauxite was loaded on to the RTM Weipa bound for Rio’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.

The US$1.9 billion (A$2.6 billion) investment in Amrun is aimed at replacing production from the depleting East Weipa mine and increasing annual bauxite exports by around 10 Mt. Amrun is expected to reach a full production rate of 22.8 Mt/y during 2019.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said: “Bringing Amrun online further strengthens our position as a leading supplier in the seaborne market. We have the largest bauxite resources in the industry and are geographically well positioned to supply China’s significant future import needs, as well as supporting our refinery and smelting operations in Australia and New Zealand.”

The mining major was able to bring Amrun in ahead of schedule thanks, in part, to an innovation in design and fabrication of key infrastructure purpose-built for construction at Amrun’s remote location, according to Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation Group Executive Stephen McIntosh.

This included design and fabrication of the wharf on the Western Cape York Peninsula, which was constructed over water in essentially 13 pieces.

During construction, the Amrun development set a benchmark in supporting local and regional suppliers with US$1.6 billion invested with Australian companies, including $181 million with local Cape York companies, Rio said.