NEW Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) will need to recruit more staff following last week’s announcement it will remain open for at least another four years.
The smelter’s majority owner, Rio Tinto, announced it had reached a deal with Meridian which would allow it to continue operating until the end of 2024.
A spokeswoman told the Southland Express NZAS had 39 vacancies at various stages of the recruitment process to be filled at the Tiwai Point plant.
“We expect to see additional roles advertised in the coming weeks as we finalise the recruitment and resourcing strategy for continued operations,” she said.
Most of the roles were for mechanical and electrical trades (15 roles) with operational engineering roles, including process control and automation engineers, also needing to be filled.
NZAS general manager Stew Hamilton said this week, the smelter would need more “great people to join our world-class team at Tiwai”.
“We have a legacy of 50 years of producing some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium and we need good people to help us keep doing that for another four years.”
The Southland Express also asked Rio Tinto about sick leave taken and the number of resignations since July 1 last year, but the company declined to comment on these matters.
Mr Hamilton said last week he had not noticed an increase in staff taking sick leave.
“People at the Tiwai site are fantastic they really get stuck in. They want the place to do well and I’m proud to see their performance in the last 12 months.
“We’ve produced very safe, stable operations under extremely challenging conditions and everybody at Tiwai wants to show up and do their best. So, I’m very proud of them.”
Invercargill man Cliff Dobbie, who has worked in the smelter’s pot room as a process controller for 32 years, said last week some people from his team had quit their jobs due to the uncertainty.
“We have lost quite a few members. Hopefully, this will stop now.”
Following the announcement, Mr Hamilton said NZAS had monitored its “turnover pretty closely” and numbers were not a concern.
However, it made him and senior staff think about staffing levels which would be required for the next four years.
“The turnover is relatively low we are not at a point that we are facing critical issues with operation.
“We had people leaving through the uncertainty and we’ve been working to minimise that now.”
Information released by Rio Tinto this week showed there were 66 new employees, including 23 trades and 32 operators or process controllers, who had started their employment at the plant after the potential closure announcement in July last year.
The company had also employed 70 holiday and project students during the past two summers.
Mr Hamilton said the continued operation of Tiwai after 2024 was a possibility but, at this stage, was only speculation.
The news of Tiwai’s extension was celebrated throughout the region.
Southland Mayoral Forum chairman and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks was pleased with the new agreement, along with other leaders.
However, Mr Hicks highlighted the forum was still focused on ensuring initiatives for future business development were at the forefront of planning.
“What this extension does for Southland is that it gives us time – time to evaluate and develop the opportunities presenting themselves and to make sure the power generated at Manapouri stays in the southern region to generate jobs.
“Leaving no stone unturned to ensure there is exciting growth ahead for the province is my focus.”Asics shoesAir Jordan 1 Mid “What The Multi-Color” For Sale – Chnpu