The firm that operates Tiwai Point aluminium smelter said it plans to remediate the site whether it is shut down in two years, but that the cost of doing so has doubled since the last estimate.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelter’s chief executive Chris Blenkiron said last week that the cost had risen substantially from the original A$352 million budgeted for the task.
“We have committed to remediating the site, whether we remain operating beyond 2024 or not. This updated provision ensures our community can be confident we are putting the right plans in place. In the meantime, work is already underway to remove waste as part of our commitment to continue to improve our environmental performance.”
It seems less and less likely that the site will indeed close, but NZAS said that the cost has ballooned to A$687 million. Blenkiron said that part of the increase was the cost to dispose of over 200 thousand metric tons of spent potlining by 2029.
The increased costs were also a result of adding in a relocation of a landfill at the site as well.
The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter brought in A$140 million in 2021, but the firm said the aluminium smelter is on shaky ground due to the power supply contracts it was in then. Ultimately NZAS was able to renegotiate a power deal with Meridian, giving it more breathing room.