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Rio Tinto to close its UK Lynemouth smelter

Rio Tinto Alcan, the aluminum division of Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) announced today it will close its Lynemouth aluminum smelter in Northumberland, England on March 29 as part of its aluminum restructure plan.

Over 300 of the 515 employees that currently work at the smelter will be made redundant in May 2012. The remaining employees will continue to work at the smelter until the end of the year

In the statement, the company added that it’s still in talks to sell the Lynemouth Power Station, were over one hundred people are employed.

“I am saddened by the closure of Lynemouth Smelter but we have reached this decision only after a thorough strategic review of the plant and a fair and transparent consultation process,” said chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan, Jacynthe Côté.

The company’s ship unloading facility at the Port of Blyth will continue to operate for the next 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, said the company.
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.

On the closure of smelting operations, Rio Tinto Alcan will immediately deploy its own Regional Economic Development (RED) programme with the objective of working alongside other agencies on long-term regeneration and job creation opportunities on the site.

Rio Tinto Alcan also said that it would consider credible expressions of third-party interest in Lynemouth’s carbon and casting plants.