Rio Tinto open to talks with New Zealand to extend aluminium smelter

The Rio Tinto mining company's logo is photographed at their annual general meeting in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rio Tinto RIO.AXRIO.L said it was willing to continue talks with the New Zealand government on extending operations at its Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, as offered by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday.

“We are always open to continuing conversations that would see fairer costs established for the smelter,” Rio Tinto’s Managing Director of Pacific Operations Kellie Parker said in an emailed statement.

“The ongoing uncertainty for our team at Tiwai and the Southland community is very hard but it is encouraging both major parties have now committed to working with us on a post-election decision.”

Ardern said if she wins re-election she would seek to extend the smelter, which Rio plans to shut in August 2021, between three to five years through a new power transmission deal.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Christian Schmollinger