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Operators New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS) made the announcement yesterday, attributing the change to the introduction of safer operating practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
NZAS chief executive and general manager Stewart Hamilton said the company had implemented several new controls on production lines that would lead to the staged closure of the Southland plant’s Line 4 this week.
"We have worked very hard to segregate our teams and develop processes where people do not come into contact with each other during shift changes. Employees with underlying health issues are self-isolating and our non-operational employees are working from home.
"Given these measures and the current climate, we also need to stabilise our operation by reducing load. To do this, we will engage with Meridian to reduce the 50MW of electricity that supports Line 4."
The change would affect 35 staff, who would be redeployed to the company’s other three lines during the closure.
"Given the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 and the four-week lockdown in New Zealand, our focus is on supporting our employees in a time of uncertainty and running a safe and efficient operation to meet our obligations with customers and suppliers," Mr Hamiton said.