A MAJOR employer in south east Northumberland have announced plans to close part of the site, with the loss of more than 500 jobs.
Rio Tinto Alcan is to close its aluminium smelter at Lynemouth following a review of the site.
A 90-day consultation process will take place with staff and union representatives, with all 515 employees to receive support, including re-training and job-search assistance.
Fears have also been raised about the site’s power station – which employs 111 people – with officials at Rio Tinto discussing its potential sale.
Local MPs, MEPs and councillors had joined the fight to keep the smelter open, and officials at Northumberland County Council have expressed their dismay at the news.
Council leader Coun Jeff Reid said: “We had hoped for the best, but feared for the worst in respect of the smelter.
“This is very sad news for those who are employed at the plant and their families, as well as for the local community as a whole.
“We have been working very closely with the company and partners including central Government, in the hope that a solution could be found.
“Now we want to do everything that we can to support those affected and to focus on creating new employment opportunities in an area which is losing its biggest private sector employer.
“We have established an internal group to support those who are losing their jobs, including looking at opportunities for training.
“The council is also working hard to secure support for a growth package for the area.
“We will continue to work with the company throughout the process, as well as with other companies in the supply chain, to highlight key issues, and establish ways that the council and our partners can help.”
• Full report and reaction in next week’s News Post Leader.