PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner Rio Tinto on Wednesday re-opened Potline 4 at its New Zealand Aluminium Smelter (NZAS), on the South Island.
The company and its joint venture partner Sumitomo invested some $4.1-million over the last year to upgrade and restart the potline, adding 31 000 t of production capacity.
“Expanding the production capacity at NZAS will allow us to meet the demand from customers for the value added products made here,” said Rio Tinto aluminium COO Pacific operations, Kellie Parker.
“Restarting this potline will increase the smelter’s production capacity by around 10% and, with increased orders for other products, has created 45 jobs.”
Parker noted that the investment was underpinned by the strong market for NZAS products, significant enhancements in the competitiveness of the smelter and a new partnership with Meridian Energy to provide additional clean hydro energy until 2022.
The potline was shut down in 2012 as the industry faced historically low aluminium prices and higher energy cost.
NZAS, in which Rio owns a 79.36% interest, produced nearly 340 000 t of aluminium in 2017 and provides work for about 900 employees and contractors.