Rio Tinto’s New Zealand-based (NZAS) Tiwai Point aluminium smelter has been compelled to cut production to reduce electricity usage by 11MW. The region is facing a power crisis due to reduced rainfall, issues with gas production and old power generation infrastructure.
The reduction in power consumption could be achieved by shutting some of the smelter’s pots, according to local media reports quoting Rio Tinto’s spokesperson.
In July last year, Rio Tinto had announced the closure of the smelter in August 2021, but later, in January, the company entered a new power agreement with Meridian Energy and Rio agreed to keep the operations on till the end of 2024.
The new power cut has reduced Tiwai smelter’s energy consumption down to 55MW and is in addition to an earlier 6MW cut. Last week, the smelter and Meridian agreed on a framework to make small, voluntary cuts in power consumption of up to 30.5MW.
NZAS is a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Chemical with 79.36pc and 20.64pc holding, respectively.