23 Jan 2009

Mayor hopes niche output will protect smelter jobs

9:41 am on 23 January 2009

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt hopes jobs won't be cut at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter because it's a niche operation.

Owner Rio Tinto won't rule out any losses among its New Zealand workforce of more than 800 people.

Mr Shadbolt told Summer Report he believes the smelter has slipped under the radar while 14,000 jobs are shed by the group around the world.

He says the smelter is unique in producing some of the world's purest aluminium at 99.98%, which gives the plant a niche market.

The aluminium is used to make aircraft wings, computers and cellphones.

Mr Shadbolt says smelter management is keeping him up to date with developments.