Talks Continue On Fate Of NZAS Tiwai Smelter, Though Opinions Differ Regarding Progress

Talks Continue On Fate Of NZAS Tiwai Smelter, Though Opinions Differ Regarding Progress

Though negotiations are ongoing, the parties involved in talks to save New Zealand Aluminium’s (NZAS) plant at Tiwai have decidedly different opinions regarding the state of those talks.

Per a report released last week, Forsyth Barr relayed the news that Rio Tinto, who is the smelter’s majority owner, will be issuing a decision as to the plant’s fate in four to six weeks. When asked, the Anglo-Australian company declined to comment on the statement.

Meanwhile, Contact Energy’s CEO Mike Fuge said his firm is “actively engaged in negotiations for revised terms for electricity supply to the Tiwai smelter.”

“We believe the best interests of ‘NZ Inc’ are served by the smelter remaining operational for at least the next five years.”

“The inability for this to happen will be bad news not only for Southland, but also for global emissions and New Zealand’s renewable energy aspirations,” Fuge went on.

Conversely, Meridian Energy was less enthusiastic, opining that the talks have thus far yielded little in the way of progress, and that it knows of no announcement to be made to the site’s labor force.

“Meridian has put a confidential proposal to NZAS with the objective of allowing NZAS to close down the smelter over a longer period of time – Meridian has proposed up to four years,” said the firm in a filing to the New Zealand stock exchange.

“To date that proposal has not been accepted and Meridian’s current expectation is that the smelter will close on August 31, 2021 as previously announced by NZAS.”

Contact said the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was generally as predicted so far for the firm, as it turned in a loss of NZ$125 million through the year’s first six months. Underlying profits were down by 22 percent to NZ$ 129 million, which Chairman Rob McDonald said was worsened by natural gas shortages in the year’s opening half.