New smelter chief executive appointed

Chris Blenkiron
Chris Blenkiron
The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will have a new leader from next year.

Rio Tinto yesterday announced the appointment of Chris Blenkiron to the role of chief executive and general manager of New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter (NZAS).

It follows the resignation of Stew Hamilton in July — he became general manager of generation at Mercury Energy.

Rio Tinto acting managing director of Pacific operations Dan van der Westhuizen said Mr Blenkiron would begin his new role early next year.

‘‘Chris has demonstrated a strong people-focused approach to delivering business outcomes and I believe he is the right fit to lead the excellent team at Tiwai.

‘‘His depth of experience in forming lasting partnerships with key stakeholders will be important for NZAS, as we work with our community on the future of the Southland region.’’

With more than 15 years’ experience in leadership roles in manufacturing and building products businesses across New Zealand, Australia, and Asia, Mr Blenkiron was well placed to lead operations at Tiwai Point, Mr van der Westhuizen said.

Mr Blenkiron is currently president of NS BlueScope Indonesia and has previously been marketing, sales and business development general manager at New Zealand Steel.

The smelter was due to shut this year, but was given a lifeline until at least 2024 after a deal with its power suppliers.

Mr van der Westhuizen said the new chief executive would play a ‘‘vital role’’ in managing important relationships and overseeing the company’s obligations and wider role in New Zealand.

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