Tyne & Wear

'No decision' over Alcan smelting plant in Lynemouth

Owners of an aluminium smelting plant facing closure in Northumberland say no decision has been taken on its future.

Rio Tinto, which owns the Alcan plant at Lynemouth, says it will try to sell the plant but might have to close if a buyer does not come forward.

The company is putting a task force together to help the 630 workers while a decision is being made.

It claims the plant brings in profit, but UK legislation will wipe that out by 2013.

Labour MP for Wansbeck Ian Lavery said the company had already made up its mind.

"They want much more profit from their different organisations throughout the world.

"Most people would be happy with £40m, but they want 40% profits on the investments that they make."

John McCabe, from Alcan, said: "Rio Tinto is streamlining its global aluminium business in order to focus on its top assets globally, unfortunately Lynemouth isn't considered to be one of them as it does not return 40% rate of return for the business.

"Lynemouth is efficient but it is a high-cost operation; that's largely due to the cost of producing energy in the UK.

"With with rising costs in the UK, those profits would be entirely wiped out by 2013.

"There's never an ideal time for something like this, and we're aware of the difficulties the area is already facing, and we'll do everything we can to minimise impact on employees, local communities and local supply chain jobs.

"We're hoping for the best, but we're planning for the worst."

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