Rio Tinto Alcan announces Lynemouth smelter will close

RIO Tinto Alcan’s Lynemouth aluminium smelter will close, the company has announced.

The announcement follows a meeting between the company and union and employee representatives on the site this morning (Tuesday).

Of the 515 people currently employed at the smelter, 323 will be made redundant in May.

Some operational activity in the smelter’s carbon and casting plants will continue for the remainder of the year.

The company’s ship unloading facility at the Port of Blyth will continue to operate for around 18 months and will be used to store and transport raw materials for the

Lochaber Smelter in the Scottish Highlands until a more permanent solution is put in place.

A core team of around 60 employees will remain on site beyond the closure of all operations to work on decommissioning, remediation and regional economic development.

Talks on the sale of Lynemouth Power Station are on-going and cannot be concluded until the regulations for its continued operation independent of the smelter are confirmed by the government.

A comprehensive support programme is being provided for workers facing redundancy as a result of the closure.

The RTA Response Group is co-ordinating packages of support for more than 500 employees and the staff at risk of redundancy in supply chain companies affected by the decision.

Northumberland County Council leader Jeff Reid said: “The decision to close the Smelter is devastating for the workforce and their families.

“Rio Tinto Alcan has been one of Northumberland’s major employers for the last 40 years and the loss of the smelter will have a major impact on the people and communities in south east Northumberland, as well as the wider economy.

“We will be working closely with RTA on longer-term plans for site remediation and economic development.”