PM reopens giant potline at smelter
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has challenged the Tiwai Smelter to keep seeking opportunities arising from producing highquality low-carbon product in a world that needs to transition to a low-emissions future.
She was speaking at yesterday’s official reopening of the smelter’s giant Potline 4, which was closed for six years amid historically low aluminium prices and higher energy costs.
Improved market conditions and a new contract with Meridian Energy led majority owner Rio Tinto to reopen it.
Ardern said opportunities as well as challenges arose from climate change and she called for a combined effort to find and seize opportunities amid the demand for more sustainable low-carbon products.
Chief executive Stew Hamilton announced NZAS would undergo the ‘‘rigorous’’ Aluminium Stewardship Initiative certification process.
This was a multi-stakeholder, non-profit standards-setting organisation working towards responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium.
‘‘This will extend our leadership on responsible production by providing independent verification that our metal meets the highest environmental, social and governance standards,’’ he said. ‘‘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 drink.’’
Rio Tinto Pacific operations chief Kellie Parker said restarting the potline would increase the smelter’s production capacity by about 10 per cent and, with increased orders for other products, had created 45 jobs.
The smelter’s product was used in smartphones, electronics, lighter and more energy-efficient cars . . . even down to a recently announced deal making Nespresso coffee pods ‘‘from responsibly-sourced aluminium’’.
Ardern acknowledged that of the smelter’s $1.3 billion export earnings about 3 per cent was to the United States.
‘‘Before anyone asks me . . . I can assure you I continue to ask at every single opportunity about those pesky tariffs and point out what New Zealand offers in high quality low-carbon products.’’
Energy Minister Megan Woods said the smelter showed ‘‘exactly the direction the Government wants to see our economy move towards’’.
Meridian chief executive Neal Barclay said New Zealand had a world-class electricity system providing security of supply and a high proportion of renewable energy at an internationally competitive price.
‘‘As well as being good for our business and great for the Southland region, this new contract helps Meridian to take action on climate change.’’
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the official reopening of Potline 4 at Tiwai Point Aluminium smelter yesterday. From left, Energy Minister Megan Woods, Ardern, and list MP Liz Craig view aluminium just cast from the fourth potline, with NZAS staff.