The future of Bell Bay Aluminium is secure, following a $30 million investment by parent company Rio Tinto Alcan and a new deal with Hydro Tasmania, which will see power to the smelter increased by 10 per cent to 355 megawatts, boosting production by 4000 tonnes.
This was followed by an exemption from the federal government’s Renewable Energy Scheme, which is expected to save the company an estimated $10 million a year.
The announcements have helped to secure the jobs of 1500 Tasmanians, including 500 direct employees and another 1000 indirect jobs.
Terms of the agreement with Hydro Tasmania have been kept commercial in confidence. Minister for State Growth Matthew Groom has said the electricity price is consistent with other industrial users and was sustainable.
The money invested by Rio Tinto Alcan will be used to complete upgrades to the smelter’s wharf and carbon baking furnace.
Bell Bay general manager Ray Mostogl said the deal was good news for employees, the local community and the Tasmanian economy.
“Since 2012, Bell Bay Aluminium has been on a well-documented journey to restructure, transform and survive,” Mr Mostogl said.
“Bell Bay Aluminium employees have demonstrated their innovation in growing a nearly 60-year-old smelter, the first of its kind in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, to run harder, faster and more efficiently, leading to improved productivity with production gains.”
These announcements mark a turn-around in Bell Bay Aluminium’s fortunes since 2012, when the business was said to be under threat of closure. Since then, an internal reform has put the smelter in a stronger position, despite the falling global aluminium price.