This Morning in Metals: Rio Tinto to close New Zealand Aluminum Smelters

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This morning in metals news: Rio Tinto announced it will wind down operations and eventually close its New Zealand Aluminum Smelters; copper prices are surging; and the Pilbara Ports Authority reported June shipping data.

Rio Tinto to close NZAS

Miner Rio Tinto announced it plans to wind down its New Zealand Aluminum Smelters operations and, eventually, close them “following the conclusion of its strategic review which has shown the business is no longer viable given high energy costs and a challenging outlook for the Aluminum industry.”

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“As a result, NZAS has given Meridian Energy notice to terminate the power contract, which will end in August 2021, when the wind-down of operations is expected to complete,” Rio Tinto said in a release.

“The strategic review concluded that the smelter, which has made Rio Tinto an underlying loss of NZ$46m in 2019, is not economically viable due to energy costs that are some of the highest in the industry globally, coupled with a challenging short to medium term aluminum outlook. Extensive discussions with a wide range of interested parties have failed to secure a power contract that will enable the operation to become both competitive and profitable.”

Copper continues rally

As MetalMiner’s Maria Rosa Gobitz explained recently, the copper price has been riding a wave of upward momentum in recent weeks.

Reuters reported the copper price reached a two-year high Monday.

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PPA reports June shipping data

Australia’s Pilbara Ports Authority reported June throughput of 68.2 million tonnes, marking a 6% year-over-year increase.

Of that total, iron ore throughput accounted for 63.8 million tonnes.

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