New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was on hand at Tiwai Point last week to reopen Potline 4 after a US$4.1-million upgrade to the facility.
New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) officially reopened the line on Thursday, adding another 31 thousand metric tons per annum to the plant’s nameplate capacity.
The line, which was shuttered six years ago amidst abysmal aluminium prices, is expected to help NZAS and its partners to meet demand in a market they view as on the rebound.
Rio Tinto Aluminium chief operating officer Pacific Operations Kellie Parker said that much of the new capacity at Tiwai Point will be aimed at production of value-added aluminium.
“Expanding the production capacity at NZAS will allow us to meet the demand from customers for the value added products made here.
“Restarting this potline will increase the smelter’s production capacity by around 10 per cent and, with increased orders for other products, has created 45 jobs.”
In addition to an aluminium market on the mend, Rio Tinto credits an increased competitiveness of the Tiwai Point smelter and a three-year agreement with Meridian Energy to provide hydropower to the plant as points in the plant’s favor.
NZAS chief executive and general manager Stew Hamilton emphasized the plant’s sustainable production practices in Rio Tinto’s press release.
“We produce aluminium with one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. This is incredibly important to many of our manufacturing customers and helps them to meet the expectations of consumers buying products like computers, cars, food and drinks.”
“I am proud to announce that NZAS will soon undergo the rigorous Aluminium Stewardship Initiative certification process,” he continued. “This will extend our leadership on responsible production by providing independent verification that our metal meets the highest environmental, social and governance standards.”
“Rio Tinto is the first in the industry to be able to produce ASI Certified Aluminium through its smelters in Canada, and once NZAS is also certified, this ground-breaking product will be available to customers in all markets,” Hamilton concluded.
NZAS is a joint venture operation owned by Pacific Aluminium (New Zealand) Limited (79.36%), and Sumitomo Chemical Company (20.64%). Pacific Aluminium (New Zealand) Limited is the managing partner, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto.