Tom Keighley

Member Article

630 Northumberland jobs under threat as Alcan plant faces closure

Hundreds of jobs in Northumberland are in danger as the future of Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminium smelting plant at Lynemouth continues to hang in the balance.

Bosses at Rio Tinto are hoping to sell the plant, but are prepared to close it completely if no buyer can be found, putting up to 630 jobs at risk.

John McCabe, Rio Tinto Alcan coporate affairs director, said: “Rio Tinto is streamlining its global aluminium production, and Lynemouth is not considered to be one of its top assets.

“There is an interested party for the power station, which employs 120 people, although there is currently no viable offer for the smelting plant.

“Therefore we have to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

Mr McCabe went on to say that the company would do all it could to help workers if the plant was to be closed, including training workshops, CV advice, and support for those who wanted to start their own business.

Tom Brennan, GMB Northern regional secretary, said: “What is not yet clear is why the company might want to offload it’s smelting facility.

“There was some talk of environmental concerns, although this has not been verified, and there is also the possibility that they are waiting for the market to settle before making a decision.

“Either way, we don’t want this to impact on jobs, and if it’s the case that the company have simply lost interest, we would encourage a buyer to run it as a going concern.

“Here in the North East we need job losses like a hole in the head, especially as we are still feeling the effects of the recession.”

Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, Sir Alan Beith, described the news as “a very bad day for Northumberland.”

He said: “Rio Tinto have obviously calculated that aluminium can be produced in countries where energy is cheaper and environmental protection is taken much less seriously.

“I will be pressing Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Business Secretary Vince Cable to do all they can to facilitate sale of the power station to a new operator and any potential sale of the smelter.”

Sir Alan went on to suggest that if closure did occur, then the whole former mining area between Blyth and Amble should be Given Enterprise zone status. <!—EndFragment—>

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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