New power deal saves 500 jobs at smelter

Bell Bay Aluminium is hailing its new 13-year-power deal with Hydro Tasmania one that helps it retain 500 workers.

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The Rio Tinto-owned smelter said cost-saving measures, such as the electricity deal and extending to job cuts, would improve its viability.

Like the neighbouring Temco manganese smelter, Bell Bay Aluminium has been hit by falling metal prices and a high Australian dollar.

Smelter general manager Roy Mostogl said 30 jobs would most likely go in the restructure with those workers offered redeployment within Rio Tinto or redundancy.

Premier Lara Giddings met with workers who expressed relief at the announcement.

Ms Giddings said it was great deal for the company and the nearby George Town community.

She said the deal was not subsidised by consumers who face a new round of electricity price rises from this Sunday.

More in The Examiner tomorrow.

EARLIER 10.32am: Thirty jobs will go at Rio Tinto's Bell Bay aluminium smelter after the company announced a restructure today.

The former Comalco plant has secured a new electricity deal with Hydro Tasmania from July 1 this year until 2025.

In addition the smelter is implementing a number of cost saving measures which it said had already delivered millions of dollars in savings.

The job cuts will come from the smelter's ``leader and support'' positions and workers will be offered relocation or redundancy.

This will bring the plant's workforce down to about 500 employees.

``The new power arrangements and the improvements being implemented across our business

provide a solid platform to secure the long-term future for the Bell Bay smelter,'' plant general manager Ray Mostogl said.

``With tough market conditions expected to continue for some time it is important that we remain

focused on innovation, flexibility and adaptability.''

Mr Mostogl thanked his staff and the George Town community which is heavily dependent on the survival of the smelter and other big employers at Bell Bay.

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