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ALCAN - The Aluminium Smelter and Power Station at LYNEMOUTH in Northumberland

25151 Views 53 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Ken O'Heed
ALCAN - Lynemouth, Northumberland . . .

The Alcan Aluminium Smelter and Power Station at Lynemouth in Northumberland is a very important employer for the largely rural county of Northumberland.

There are currently concerns that one or both of the above facilities may close, with a potential loss of more than 600 jobs.

For that reason, discussions on the Alcan facilities deserve their own thread.

Lynemouth, where Alcan is located, is 'technically' outside the area covered by the "Newcastle Metro Area" Forum, being some three miles North of that forum's northerly limit of Ashington.

For that reason this Alcan Thread is being set up here in the North East England (sub-forum) "Communal Area" though I'm certain Alcan will also receive a periodic mention on the 'Jobs' or 'Ashington Area Developments' threads, on the Newcastle Forum.

However, THIS THREAD should be regarded as the main location for Alcan-related discussions.

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Alcan Aluminium Smelter jobs under threat
by Stephen Cape, The Journal, October 18th 2011

A THREAT to hundreds of jobs in Northumberland was raised yesterday when the owners of an aluminium plant said it was considering closure.

Rio Tinto, which owns the smelting plant in Lynemouth, has revealed plans to “streamline its aluminium interests” which include the 650-job smelter and power station in Northumberland.

North East MPs and union officials called the news of the possible closure “potentially devastating” and urged the Government to intervene.

Rio Tinto is selling six aluminium plants in Australia and New Zealand while a group of “non-core” assets, which include the Northumberland site, will be managed by the company until a final decision is made about their future.

John McCabe, Alcan Aluminium UK Corporate Director said: “We have not found a buyer for the smelter which employs 510 people so closure is a potential option, but we do have an interested party for the power station where 120 people are employed.”

The power station burns coal to provide electricity to the smelter, so any new operator would have to bear the cost of converting it to a more environmentally friendly biomass system.

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Rio Tinto Alcan to close Lynemouth smelter
By Colin George, The Journal, November 16th 2011

NORTHUMBERLAND'S biggest private sector employer, Rio Tinto Alcan, has announced it is to close the Lynemouth aluminium smelter with the loss of more than 500 jobs. The firm will now conduct a 90-day consultation process with staff and union representatives.

There are also fears over a further 100 jobs as the company also revealed it is in discussions regarding the potential sale of the power station at the site.

The Lynemouth smelter opened in 1972 and employs 515 people. An additional 111 are employed at the power station. A statement from the firm said all affected workers will receive support, including re-training and job-search assistance, in order to mitigate the impact of any closure.

Rio Tinto Alcan chief executive Jacynthe C¤t› said: This decision follows a thorough strategic review which explored every possible option for continuing to operate the smelter and power station, however, it is clear the smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging legislation.

We are hopeful that the power station can remain in operation under new ownership.

For 40 years, the Lynemouth smelter and power station have been important parts of the community and we will work with our employees and other key stakeholders to ensure that the social and environmental consequences of todays announcement are managed in the most sensitive way.

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One of the knock on effects of the Alcan closure will be on the Port of Blyth, which handles many of the sea borne deliveries of materials to the smelter - sad news indeed.

Alcan smelter still to close despite Chancellor's support package
by William Green, The Journal, November 30th 2011

THE OWNERS of the Alcan smelter in Lynemouth still plan to shut it despite the Chancellor unveiling a £250m package to stop such closures in energy-intensive industries.

George Osborne cheered energy-intensive industries by confirming a £250m package of support in a bid to keep industry and jobs in Britain.

But Alcan owners Rio Tinto were still pressing ahead with closure plans last night which would mean the loss of 515 jobs plus hundreds more in the supply chain.

In his Autumn Statement on the economy, Mr Osborne said he was worried about the combined impact of green policies adopted by Britain and the European Union on heavy, energy-intensive industries.

“We’re not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills and our aluminium smelters, our paper manufacturers,” said the Chancellor.

He told MPs that the £250m scheme over the life of the current Parliament “will keep industry and jobs here in Britain”.

But a Rio Tinto Alcan spokesman said: “It is still our intention to close subject to consultation and to any interest that may emerge in the smelter as a consequence of this announcement.”

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Vince Cable told to back 2,000 jobs plan after Alcan announcement
by Adrian Pearson, The Journal, December 3rd 2011

VINCE Cable has been told to urgently back plans to create 2,000 Northumberland jobs in the wake of the Alcan redundancy announcement.

Council leaders from across the North East have sent a joint letter to the Business Secretary urging him to intervene with incentives and support for firms in Northumberland.

Their move comes after Rio Tinto Alcan said there has so far been no Government announcement which will lead it to keep open the Lynemouth aluminium smelter, with more than 500 jobs set to go as a result and the knock-on effect at the onsite power station alone, would see another 110 jobs go.

Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson sent the joint letter to the Business Secretary in his role as the chairman of the Association of North East Councils.

In the letter, backed by Northumberland County Council leader Jeff Reid, Mr Watson said a plan was already being formed to create thousands of jobs and that this must now be backed as a Department for Business priority.

It is believed the businesses and council making up the North East local enterprise partnership are bringing forward plans to seek support for new industries in the area to offset the closure, expected in May. When Teesside’s Corus factory was under threat the Government stepped in with £60m to retrain staff, put up land and help new firms come to the area.

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Rio Tinto Alcan announce date of closure
of Lynemouth aluminium smelter

The Journal, Business News, March 6th 2012

RIO Tinto Alcan has this morning announced the date of closure of its Lynemouth aluminium smelter in Northumberland. The plant will close on March 29 with 323 of the 515 staff to be made redundant in May.

The decision follows consultation with employee representatives.

Jacynthe Cotte, chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan, said: I am saddened by the closure of Lynemouth Smelter but we have reached this decision only after a thorough strategic review of the plant and a fair and transparent consultation process.

"I have met with Lynemouth unions and staff members and I have great respect for the manner in which they have represented their colleagues during consultation. "We will now focus on safely decommissioning the plant, working with our employees to mitigate the impact of redundancy on them and their families and partnering with all interested stakeholders on the future regional economic development of the Lynemouth site.

"We are in close contact with our customers to limit the impact on their businesses under the scope of our contractual agreements."

Some operational activity in the smelters carbon and casting plants will continue this year. The companys ship unloading facility at the Port of Blyth will continue to operate for around 18 months and will be used to store and transport raw materials for the Lochaber Smelter in the Scottish Highlands until a more permanent solution is put in place.

A core team of around 60 employees will remain on site beyond the closure of all operations to work on decommissioning, remediation and regional economic development.

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Alcan jobs deal should be concluded by year's end
by David Black, The Journal, June 4th 2012

A DEAL to secure the future of more than 100 workers at the Alcan power station in Northumberland should be completed by the end of this year, it was claimed yesterday. Rio Tinto Alcan bosses are in detailed negotiations to sell the Lynemouth power plant to a new owner, giving it a future as a standalone generating unit.

The proposed sale is subject to Government approval, with the deal awaiting the completion of a lengthy and complicated examination by the electricity industry and ministers. Alcan’s power station, which is fuelled by a combination of coal and biomass, employs 111 people and until recently provided electricity for the neighbouring, 512-job aluminum smelter.

The power was switched off in March as part of the phased closure of the smelter, which reached another milestone last week with the completion of the final shift and the exodus of almost 300 workers.

The power station, which has been a landmark on the coastline since the early 1970s, continues to operate at full capacity and is currently selling electricity to the national grid.

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Alcan global promotion hopes to secure future for Lynemouth site
by David Black, The Journal, July 13th 2012

GLOBAL EFFORTS are being made to bring new investment and jobs to the doomed Alcan aluminium site in Northumberland – and limit the devastating economic impact of its closure. Owner Rio Tinto Alcan is working with a number of partners to promote the “world class” smelter site at Lynemouth – both nationally and internationally – in a bid to secure a long-term future for it. RTA bosses are working with Northumberland County Council, UK Trade and Investment and the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on how best to market it and attract much-needed new investment and jobs.

A brochure has been produced spelling out the attractions of the Lynemouth land and buildings and is being sent out to British Embassies and other international outlets in a global promotional drive. Attempts to secure new business investment and employment to the huge site will continue during the lengthy de-commissioning, cleaning up and demolition process at the Lynemouth smelter, which is expected to take between three and five years.

RTA’s efforts to secure a future for the 512-job site after it leaves were revealed yesterday, at a public meeting held to keep local parish councils and community groups informed about the continuing closure programme. The company is hoping for a similar outcome to that which followed the closure of its 400-job aluminium smelter on Anglesey in 2009. New investment has been secured there to create an eco-park – including a £600m biomass power station and fish farm – and a holiday complex, which it hoped will provide up to 800 jobs.

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Government urged to include Alcan site
in an extended Enterprise Zone

by David Black, The Journal, August 28th 2012

Rio Tinto Alcan at Lynemouth

TWO LABOUR MPs are calling on the Government to extend a vital economic support system to the area hit by closure of Northumberland's biggest private sector employer. More than 500 jobs will be lost in the phased closure of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium smelter at Lynemouth, with potentially many more in the supply chain.

Now Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and Blyth Valley’s Ronnie Campbell have urged ministers to “think outside the box” to help south east Northumberland cope with an increasing unemployment crisis. They are calling on Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable to consider extending the North Eastern Enterprise Zone to include the area around the Alcan site at Lynemouth.

A year ago, in his autumn statement, Mr Osborne promised to consider extending the enterprise zone to the Port of Blyth and the River Blyth estuary to help create new private sector jobs.

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Politicians welcome £11.75m RGF boost for efforts to address Alcan closure in Northumberland
by David Black, The Journal, October 20th 2012

POLITICIANS have welcomed an £11.75m boost for efforts to tackle the devastating economic impact of the Alcan closure in Northumberland. They said the investment, secured from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, will significantly assist work to rescue the economy of the area following the shutdown of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium smelter at Lynemouth.

The phased shutdown of the plant – with the loss of 500 direct jobs and hundreds more in the supply chain – has been described as a “hammer blow” for south east Northumberland. Now the successful bid for £11.75m in RGF cash has been hailed as a vital contribution towards attracting new investment, business growth and jobs to the area.

It is claimed the funding could result in the creation of more than 600 jobs in an area where it was recently claimed that 26 people are chasing every vacancy. The money will be used to deliver the South East Northumberland Business Growth Programme, which was developed in response to the closure of the smelter. The bid was drawn up by local development company Arch Group in partnership with Northumberland County Council, and was supported by Rio Tinto Alcan and the county’s MPs.

The £11.75m sum, complements Rio Tinto’s own regional economic development programme, which aims to secure replacement jobs on the Lynemouth site.

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Alcan Power Station in Northumberland bought by RWE
The Journal, December 19th 2012

The Alcan plant in Northumberland

RIO TINTO ALCAN today concluded the sale of its power station at Lynemouth in Northumberland to German energy giant RWE. RWE confirmed it has acquired the 420-megawatt, coal-fired plant following months of negotiations. It is hoped the deal will safeguard the jobs of 120 workers at the power station, which has supplied electricity to the nearby RTA aluminium smelter since it opened in 1972.

Since the closure of the 515-job smelter earlier this year, the plant has been providing power solely to the national grid. RWE said today it will make a decision early in 2013 on whether to convert the coal-fired station to biomass.

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Alcan fund keeps Woodhorn Museum railway going
by David Black, The Journal, February 22nd 2013

John McCabe, from Rio Tinto Alcan, and Stan Lawler who drives the Hunslet

A MINIATURE railway which symbolises the North East’s proud coal mining heritage has been given a financial boost to help keep it on track for another 15 years. Trains which run on the narrow gauge railway take about 18,000 visitors a year on a mile-long journey from Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland to the lake in the nearby Queen Elizabeth II Country Park and back. Run by a dedicated band of retired, unemployed and student volunteers, the railway operates every Saturday and Sunday and has proved popular with visitors to Woodhorn.

Now it has been given a £4,400 donation from the legacy fund set up by Rio Tinto Alcan in the wake of the decision to close its 500-job aluminium smelter at Lynemouth. The railway attraction was conceived more than 20 years ago when the local mining industry donated a former pit locomotive, the Leeds-built Hunslet, and three carriages to the museum.

Another loco, a Schoma from Germany, was bought in 2008 when problems with the Hunslet started to occur. The Woodhorn railway volunteers face increasing maintenance problems with the Hunslet and access to spares is becoming more difficult. They have discovered that a number of Hunslets were built in the mid-1990s, and are on sale in Hong Kong for about £11,400 each. If the Woodhorn volunteers can buy one, it will extend the life span of the railway for another 15 years, but without third-party donations that would not be possible.

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The new name for the former Rio Tinto smelter site
is Northumberland Coastal Enterprise Centre.

by Iain Laing, The Journal, February 27th 2013

Rio Tinto smelter in Lynemouth

THE SITE of the former Rio Tinto smelter in Lynemouth is to be renamed "Northumberland Coastal Enterprise Centre" as part of a major marketing plan to attract investors. The 250-acre site operated since 1972 as the Alcan smelter but closed in 2012 with the loss of more than 500 jobs.

Rio Tinto has since deployed a programme of Regional Economic Development (RED) to attract investors and create jobs, but it has a long way to go to take the place of Alcan as an economic driver. The site already has its first tenant with the arrival of Aartoft Limited in late 2012. The company operates in the construction sector and hopes to employ up to 40 people after taking up residence in 18,000 sq ft of space, previously the smelter’s garage.

John McCabe, regional economic development director, Rio Tinto, said: “The new name says something about our location and will hopefully resonate with potential investors.”

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Alcan smelter land and assets put up for sale
by Brian Daniel, The Journal, June 5th 2013

LAND and assets at a closed Northumberland smelter have been put up for sale for £20m. Farms, residential properties, development opportunities, an operational 13 turbine wind farm and strategic mineral assets at the site of the former Alcan Lynemouth smelter are being offered just over a year after it shut.

Bosses at Alcan said they hoped a deal could be agreed which would see the property portfolio transferred to “a responsible purchaser with long-term plans that will benefit the communities of Northumberland”. The Alcan Farms portfolio is being offered for sale by agents YoungsRPS. In all, the total landholding is 1,785.34 hectares – 4,411.57 acres. Offers in the region of £20m are being sought.

The land has been managed as part of the Alcan Farms business since 1973. It was originally purchased by the company to support operations at the smelter

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Queen's property empire leads race to buy Rio Tinto Alcan

From today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @

Queen's property empire leads race to buy Rio Tinto Alcan
By Dan Warburton - 8th October 2013

he Queen’s property company is leading a £20m race to take control of land linked to a mothballed aluminium smelter in Northumberland, The Journal can reveal.

Rio Tinto Alcan’s site at Lynemouth ceased operating last year in a move which saw 515 workers lose their jobs. Now it has emerged the Queen’s commercial property business has launched a bid to take control of the site.

A spokesman for the Crown Estate - which claims to be “a key player in supporting the delivery of a diverse and secure energy supply for the UK” - declined to comment.

However, it is understood the organisation is in pole position to purchase 5,000 acres of farmland located near to the Lynemouth smelter. Farms, residential properties, development opportunities, an operational 13-turbine wind farm and strategic mineral assets at the site of the former Alcan Lynemouth smelter were put up for grabs earlier this year. At the time bosses at Alcan - who last night declined to comment on “speculation or rumour” - said they hoped a deal could be agreed which would see the property portfolio transferred to “a responsible purchaser with long-term plans that will benefit the communities of Northumberland”.

A source close to the deal said: “The Crown Estate have a reputation in the renewable energy sector so the site is suited to their current operations.”

The land has been managed as part of the Alcan Farms business since 1973.

It was originally purchased by the company to support operations at the smelter.

Meanwhile staff from the Port of Blyth have won a contract to operate a ship terminal on site. The terminal was maintained following the closure of the Lynemouth plant to import reduced quantities of raw materials and fuel which are

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Conversion of Lynemouth power station moves closer

Courtesy of today's Journal Live, copyright NCJMedia Ltd @

Conversion of Lynemouth power station moves closer
By The Journal - 20th December 2013

Plans to convert a Northumberland power station to a biomass facility have taken a major step forward after a government funding boost.

Bosses at Lynemouth Power Station have been told the project is eligible for funding from the Department for Climate Change (DECC).

The news was last night welcomed by bosses as well as the local MP, who said it promised to safeguard more than 100 jobs.

The 400MW coal-fired power station was originally run by Rio Tinto Alcan and employed 130 staff.

However, it faced closure until a deal was agreed to sell to Lynemouth Power, a subsidiary of RWE npower last Christmas.

The new owner has until the end of next year to undertake a £100m conversion of the plant to biomass (wood) or face closure under European emissions regulations.

If the conversion takes place Lynemouth will be able to sell the electricity it generates at £100 per MW/h – which is twice the current wholesale price.

Last week, the site was selected by the government as one of the projects it favours for a biomass conversion.

Yesterday, DECC confirmed the project meets the minimum criteria for an investment contract under the Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling Scheme, part of the government’s proposed ‘Contract for Differences’ (CfD) mechanism aimed at supporting major low carbon energy projects.

Lynemouth Power was classed as “provisionally affordable.”

As a result, the company yesterday received a draft investment contract.

It will need to confirm its commitment to the contract process by submitting a binding application in March 2014. Bob Huntingdon, managing director of Lynemouth Power Limited, said: “This is a good step forward for Lynemouth Power, but there are a number of steps remaining before we can make a final investment decision.

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Sweet Jesus. Isn’t biomass prohibitively expensive and wasteful? Not only that, the carbon footprint is massive due to the many layers of processing required e.g. growing then felling thousands of trees in Canada, importing to the UK, cutting up and breaking down, hauling said ‘waste’ to plant for incineration.

Our energy policy is an utter shambles.
Biomass is usually waste from forestry or sugar cane crops and as such it's using plant material for fuel which would otherwise rot and release carbon. The plants themselves absorb carbon dioxide in similar volumes to released by efficient burning-the eu regards it as carbon neutral. It is expensive at present but is said to be about equivalent to nuclear in 10 years time given the projected rise in energy costs.
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