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Ed Sheeran

Invercargill braces for smelter closure

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The deputy mayor of Invercargill says the city is fighting to find alternatives for its people once one of its biggest employers quits.

Rio Tinto has given notice to Meridian Energy it will cease its power supply contract next year and close its Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

Toni Biddle from Ngāi Tūhoe says that will affect 2200 people in direct and indirect jobs.

It’s a decision the city has expected for years, and it has been looking at how it can pivot to other industries.

"I know that Southland’s done this before, They've been through this with the closure of Ocean Beach (freezing works) many years ago and my father was part of that closure and we've survived. We remain optimistic. We continue to fight for Tiwai and the whānau that will be affected and we do so unitedly down here, We're definitely not going to leave this laying on the table," Ms Biddle says.

E Tū union is calling for a ‘Just Transition’ for Tiwai Point workers in the wake of Rio Tinto’s announcement, similar to the approach used for the Taranaki 2050 Roadmap.

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