the future of Lynemouth’s Rio Tinto Alcan plant is under review, sparking fears it could be sold off.
The Canadian-owned firm regularly carries out reviews of its assets, but changes in European legislation could see the plant hit with additional running costs by 2013, and a sale is believed to be one of the options now being considered.
Other possibilities could include changing the power source at the plant, pictured, from coal to wood.
All 650 staff at the aluminium smelter and adjoining power station have been notified of the review, and bosses have said they will be kept informed throughout.
A spokesman for the firm said: “As a matter of course, Rio Tinto Alcan conducts strategic reviews of its portfolio of assets to ensure alignment with the overall business strategy of operating large-scale, long-life and low-cost assets.
“Strategic business reviews look at such areas as market performance, direction, products and services, operational matters, financial matters, options for growth, and compliance with environmental legislation.
“Recently, Rio Tinto Alcan launched such a review of Lynemouth and is considering all options.
“At this time, no decision has yet been taken on any of the potential options.
“Our priority must remain the safety of all employees, contractors and visitors to the site. We must also do everything we can to ensure Lynemouth operates as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
“Employees and key stakeholders will be made aware of the strategic review findings for Lynemouth as they become available.”