Gove will have no impact on Tiwai
@devlincolle The closure of Rio Tinto's Australian alumina refinery in Gove will have no effect on Southland's Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter.
The mining giant, which is the majority owner of the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, announced last week it would suspend alumina production at the Northern Territory plant - putting up to 1500 jobs on the chopping block - including former Tiwai boss Ryan Cavanagh and four Southlanders.
After years of losing money producing alumina at the Gove refinery, Rio said it was no longer a viable business.
It will now concentrate on maintaining its bauxite mining on the Arnhem Land site.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters general manager external affairs Joseph Dowling said the closure would have no impact on the Tiwai Pt smelter.
The smelter got little (less than 1 per cent) alumina from Gove, he said.
Most of the alumina came from Rio Tinto's Yarwun refinery in Queensland and Worsley in Western Australia.
He was not sure if a decision had been made about Mr Cavanagh's job.
''It is too early in the process.''
Mr Cavanagh was appointed NZAS general manager in 2009 and left in April this year to take up the position of general manager at the Gove bauxite mine and and alumina refinery.
He relocated with his pregnant wife and two children to remote Australia for the job that ''ticked all the boxes'' and ''did not come along often''.
Mr Dowling said the Gove closure reflected the depressed global aluminium prices, over supply, and a high Australian dollar.
The closure of Gove would take some alumina out of the global market but would not have an impact on the global price, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News