Thursday 20th September 2018
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The Tiwai Point smelter will soon begin energising the site’s fourth potline after a six-year break.
The country’s biggest power consumer agreed on a new four-year, 50 MW supply contract with Meridian Energy in May. The new contract, backed by the country’s other major generators, was negotiated after a sustained improvement in aluminium prices and a reduction in the New Zealand dollar made the extra production profitable.
Today Meridian said it expects the potline – shut in 2012 due to low aluminium prices and high spot power prices – will be energised shortly. Any power consumed on or after Monday, Sept. 24 will trigger the new contract, the generator said.
The smelter at Bluff accounts for about 13 percent of the country’s electricity use. It can use up to 630 MW of power but is currently taking only 572 MW under a new power deal it agreed with Meridian in 2013. That agreement runs through to 2030.
In May, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters said the restart would take up to six months and require the hiring of an extra 32 staff. It will increase production by about 85 tonnes a day – or 31,000 tonnes a year.
The smelter produced a record 354,030 tonnes of saleable metal in 2011 and about 337,000 tonnes last year.
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