PM re­opens Ti­wai pot­line

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Michael Fal­low mike.fal­[email protected]

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern has chal­lenged the Ti­wai Smelter to keep seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties aris­ing from pro­duc­ing high­qual­ity low-car­bon prod­uct in a world that needed to tran­si­tion to a low-emis­sions fu­ture.

She was speak­ing at yes­ter­day’s of­fi­cial re-open­ing the smelter’s gi­ant Pot­line 4, which had been closed for six years amid his­tor­i­cally low alu­minium prices and higher en­ergy costs.

Im­proved mar­ket con­di­tions and a new con­tract with Merid­ian En­ergy have led ma­jor­ity owner Rio Tinto to re­open it.

Ardern said op­por­tu­ni­ties as well as chal­lenges arose from cli­mate change and she called for 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 around 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.

‘‘The more alu­minium that is pro­duced in New Zealand us­ing mainly re­new­able en­ergy, the more this dis­places pro­duc­tion of alu­minium us­ing fos­sil fuel al­ter­na­tives over­seas.’’

Ardern also opened Al­liance’s new $15.9 mil­lion veni­son plant, which chief ex­ec­u­tive David Sur­veyor said showed the co­op­er­a­tive’s com­mit­ment to the veni­son in­dus­try and re­gional New Zealand.

‘‘Veni­son is a vi­tal part of our grow­ing busi­ness,’’ he said.

The com­pany was di­ver­si­fy­ing from its long-stand­ing Euro­pean mar­kets into the United States and United King­dom, with val­ueadded propo­si­tions.

‘‘We are cap­tur­ing greater mar­ket value and pass­ing these gains on to our farmer share­hold­ers,’’ he said.

ROBYN EDIE/STUFF

From left, Min­is­ter Me­gan Woods, Jacinda Ardern, and List MP Liz Craig look at the alu­minium just cast from the forth pot­line, with NZAS staff, on right, at the of­fi­cial re-open­ing of Pot­line 4 at Ti­wai Point Alu­minium smelter yes­ter­day.

NZAS staff pour an alu­minium cast from the forth pot­line to make a com­mem­o­ra­tive gift for Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern.

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