Decision on Rio Tinto's Tiwai Point smelter and 800 jobs delayed

A decision on the future of the Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter at Bluff has been delayed for a month.

The decision on whether Rio Tinto, the smelter's owner, will terminate its electricity contract with Meridian Energy to power its aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point near Invercargill has been delayed until August 3.

Rio Tinto is faced with deciding whether to reduce the amount of power it buys for Meridian or shutting down the smelter that employs 800 people.

Two years ago the smelter received a $30 million grant from the government to stay open. It was given until today to decide.

In August 2013, Meridian concluded a renegotiation of the New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS) electricity contract.

In statement today Meridan chief executive Mark Binns said: "NZAS has been in discussions with a number of parties, including Meridian, with respect to its electricity requirements at

its Tiwai Point smelter.

"NZAS requires more time to fully analyse its options before making a decision."

Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. Source: 1 NEWS