Prime Minister agrees to speed up job creation in Southland with closure of Tiwai Point smelter looming

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has agreed to speed up opportunities to create jobs in Southland after revelations Bluff's Tiwai Point aluminium smelter faces closure.

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The Prime Minister and other MPs visited Invercargill to meet Southland leaders after revelations the Tiwai smelter is facing closure. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister and other MPs visited Invercargill today to meet Southland leaders. 

Southland Chamber of Commerce president Neil McAra said “the key message was we need more time”.

“Twelve to 14 months isn’t enough time, so we need all parties working together to create a solution to find more time.”

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones was also in the area today. 

It comes as the Government announced more than $40 million in funding for the Otago and Southland regions for flooding prevention, a community centre and skills training.

Rio Tinto, the smelter’s owner, announced last week it would close the plant in August next year. The announcement put more than 1000 jobs on the line. 

Last year, Rio Tinto said they were carrying out a strategic review of the site, pointing to "market conditions and high electricity costs".

Chief executive Alf Barrios said at the time that aluminium prices were at a historical low.

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A further 1600 jobs are threatened at the only aluminium processor in NZ, which is located on Tiwai Peninsula, a short distance from Bluff and Invercargill. Source: 1 NEWS

The plant is New Zealand's biggest electricity consumer, using a third of all the electricity supplied in the South Island, and about 13 per cent of electricity nation-wide.