30 Oct 2012

Smelter shelves $70m investment

5:43 am on 30 October 2012

The Bluff aluminium smelter says it has halted $70 million worth of planned capital spending while it struggles with the impacts of low prices and a high New Zealand dollar.

New Zealand Aluminium Smelters says that includes $15 million spending for the remainder of the year and for next year, and follows plans to axe up to 100 jobs over the next few years.

General manager Ryan Cavanagh said the company is losing money, and the review of its capital and major maintenance project spending identified further savings.

"We're seeing low metal prices at a 25 year low in kiwi dollar terms," Mr Cavanagh said.

"This is being exacerbated in New Zealand by a very strong Kiwi dollar, so ... along with every other exporter in the country we're struggling at the moment."

Projects affected include one replacing big cranes in the smelter's carbon plant and upgrading of transformers in the electrical switching yard.