Southland looking beyond Tiwai Point

  • 04/08/2015
The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter (file)
The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter (file)

By 3 News online staff

The long-term future of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter still hangs in the balance.

Its renewed electricity deal ensures it'll continue to produce aluminium, but that's only guaranteed until 2017.

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sarah Hannan says the smelter is crucial to the region's economy.

"In terms of staff they employ indirectly and directly, and the families, if they close we're looking a 10 percent reduction in our population in Invercargill, so that is quite significant."

The smelter employs around 800 people and contributes more than $500 million annually to the regional economy.

Ms Hannan says the threat of its departure reinforces the importance of developing other economic opportunities in the region.

"The region is working on a regional strategy at the moment, that is really focused on the extension of current industry and supporting that, but also looking at where we can introduce and entice new industry."

Shares in electricity generators Meridian, Contact and Genesis all rose yesterday on the news.

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