Bell Bay job losses due to 'difficult market'

BELL Bay Aluminium yesterday cut 20 jobs at its smelter as part of an ongoing restructure, reducing its workforce from 453 employees to 433.

The jobs have been axed from the smelter's potrooms area.

Bell Bay Aluminium general manager Ray Mostogl said employees would be offered redundancies or other possible alternative roles at the smelter.

The smelter has been forced to make significant cost savings over the past two years due to low aluminium prices, a high exchange rate and higher costs of production.

"As one of Northern Tasmania's biggest private employers, we are very mindful of the importance of our operation to the Tasmanian community but the aluminium market will remain tough for some time," Mr Mostogl said.

"Continuing difficult external market conditions have meant an organisation restructure is necessary in order for us to sustain our operation.

"It's important to remember that there is still more work to be done."

The company states that it directly and indirectly employs more than 1000 Tasmanians, and pays $49 million in salaries.

Last July, the company scrapped 18 maintenance jobs.

In June 2012, Hydro Tasmania and Bell Bay Aluminium signed a 13-year energy contract, designed to give the smelter more flexibility in paying its substantial power bills. A subsequent restructure of managerial and support roles was also announced, resulting in the loss of 30 positions.

George Town Chamber of Commerce president Alan Golley said the job losses sent a message to the new state government that Bell Bay Aluminium required access to a reliable, delivered energy supply at an affordable and competitive cost.

Energy Minister Matthew Groom said the company's job losses emphasised the importance of the establishment of an energy users working group to develop a strategy that ensured full advantage was taken of the state's energy assets, and the delivery of manageable power prices.

He said initial discussions would start on Monday.

Mr Groom said the strategy was aimed to be delivered at the end of the year.

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