The decision has been widely criticized by politicians and local power firms, as it would leave more than 1,000 people unemployed. NZAS is also the country’s top electricity consumer, using roughly 13% of the nation’s power supply.
Thursday’s announcement delays the likely closure of the smelter, at the bottom of the South Island, by at least three years.
Rio noted that talks with the government to address the smelter’s high transmission costs were ongoing.
“The extension provides certainty to employees, the local community and customers while providing more time for all stakeholders to plan for the future,” Rio said in a media statement.
Energy Minister Megan Woods and Finance Minister Grant Robertson…