Difference between revisions of "Lynemouth smelter"

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[[Rio Tinto Alcan]]'s Lynemouth primary aluminium smelter is the largest of the UK's two remaining smelters at a capacity of 178,000 tonnes per annum. It is located at Lynemouth in Northumberland and was commissioned in 1974<ref>Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 [http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-law-courts-tribunals/14557956-1.html Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>.
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[[Rio Tinto Alcan]]'s Lynemouth primary aluminium smelter is the largest of the UK's two remaining smelters at a capacity of 178,000 tonnes per annum. It is located at Lynemouth in Northumberland and was commissioned in 1974<ref>Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 [http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-law-courts-tribunals/14557956-1.html Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>. [[Rio Tinto Alcan]] announced the closure of the smelter in November 2011, blaming carbon taxes for making UK operations uncompetitively expensive.<ref>Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/16/carbon-laws-blamed-for-loss-of-rio-tinto-jobs Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses] Accessed 21/02/2012</ref>
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==Reasons for closure==
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515 jobs were lost in a low income area near Newcastle when the Lynemouth smelter closed prompting [[Rio Tinto Alcan]] to be questioned on the reasons for closure. RTA's press release claims:
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:"We were unsuccessful in finding a credible buyer for the smelter and will now close the operation after consultations with trade unions. The smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging legislation."<ref>Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/16/carbon-laws-blamed-for-loss-of-rio-tinto-jobs Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses] Accessed 21/02/2012</ref>
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The aluminium industry is scheduled to lose it's exemption from carbon taxes under the [[EU Emissions Trading Scheme]] in 2013, which RTA's Lynemouth spokesman [[John McCabe]] claimed would increase the energy bill from their coal plant from £7m to about £100m by 2015.
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But, according to the Guardian newspaper a trade union official said that carbon reduction legislation was "a fig leaf that the company was trying to hide behind" and the real motive was simply to remove "another layer of cost".<ref>Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/16/carbon-laws-blamed-for-loss-of-rio-tinto-jobs Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses] Accessed 21/02/2012</ref>
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Emissions trading schemes have been attacked widely by the aluminium industry for causing 'Carbon leakage' (when carbon reduction policies in one area drive the emitters elsewhere).
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Local Lib Dem MP Sir [[Alan Beith]], a long standing supporter of the UK aluminium industry and vice chair of the [[All-Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Aluminium Industry]], stated that he was in negotiations to try to keep the plant open.<ref>Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 [http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/16/carbon-laws-blamed-for-loss-of-rio-tinto-jobs Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses] Accessed 21/02/2012</ref>
  
 
==Threat of closure over pollution levels==
 
==Threat of closure over pollution levels==
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The UK government had argued that the plant should be exempt because the combustion process was used directly for manufacturing, and that the environmental issues should be balanced against the social and economic costs of closing the plant. But the ECJ did not allow this interpretation of the law<ref>Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 [http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-law-courts-tribunals/14557956-1.html Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>. In June 2010 Rio Tinto Alcan agreed to comply with the judgement by joining the National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP) under which it can buy sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) credits. RTA will need to buy around 2,200 NO2 credits and 13,800 SO2 credits which will cost several million pounds. In the long term Rio Tinto Alcan will be meeting with appropriate bodies to negotiate its difficulties with meeting targets<ref>Peter McCusker, The Journal, June 11, 2010 Saturday [http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/06/11/alcan-to-spend-millions-to-meet-pollution-guidelines-61634-26632708/ Alcan to spend millions to meet pollution guidelines] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>.
 
The UK government had argued that the plant should be exempt because the combustion process was used directly for manufacturing, and that the environmental issues should be balanced against the social and economic costs of closing the plant. But the ECJ did not allow this interpretation of the law<ref>Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 [http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-law-courts-tribunals/14557956-1.html Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>. In June 2010 Rio Tinto Alcan agreed to comply with the judgement by joining the National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP) under which it can buy sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) credits. RTA will need to buy around 2,200 NO2 credits and 13,800 SO2 credits which will cost several million pounds. In the long term Rio Tinto Alcan will be meeting with appropriate bodies to negotiate its difficulties with meeting targets<ref>Peter McCusker, The Journal, June 11, 2010 Saturday [http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/06/11/alcan-to-spend-millions-to-meet-pollution-guidelines-61634-26632708/ Alcan to spend millions to meet pollution guidelines] Accessed 21/07/10</ref>.
  
==History==
 
 
 
==Resources==
 
  
 
==Notes==
 
==Notes==

Revision as of 21:05, 21 February 2012

Mining-alcans-60px.jpg This article is part of the Mining and Metals project of Spinwatch
Rio Tinto Alcan's Lynemouth primary aluminium smelter is the largest of the UK's two remaining smelters at a capacity of 178,000 tonnes per annum. It is located at Lynemouth in Northumberland and was commissioned in 1974[1]. Rio Tinto Alcan announced the closure of the smelter in November 2011, blaming carbon taxes for making UK operations uncompetitively expensive.[2]

Reasons for closure

515 jobs were lost in a low income area near Newcastle when the Lynemouth smelter closed prompting Rio Tinto Alcan to be questioned on the reasons for closure. RTA's press release claims:

"We were unsuccessful in finding a credible buyer for the smelter and will now close the operation after consultations with trade unions. The smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging legislation."[3]

The aluminium industry is scheduled to lose it's exemption from carbon taxes under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2013, which RTA's Lynemouth spokesman John McCabe claimed would increase the energy bill from their coal plant from £7m to about £100m by 2015.

But, according to the Guardian newspaper a trade union official said that carbon reduction legislation was "a fig leaf that the company was trying to hide behind" and the real motive was simply to remove "another layer of cost".[4]

Emissions trading schemes have been attacked widely by the aluminium industry for causing 'Carbon leakage' (when carbon reduction policies in one area drive the emitters elsewhere).

Local Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith, a long standing supporter of the UK aluminium industry and vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Aluminium Industry, stated that he was in negotiations to try to keep the plant open.[5]

Threat of closure over pollution levels

In April 2010 the European Court of Justice ordered Rio Tinto Alcan to cut emissions from its coal-fired power station which emits 7,500 tonnes of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 18,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide (SO2) a year (the ninth largest SO2 emitter in the UK, producing 4% of SO2 emissions[6]) or face the threat of closure and the loss of 650 jobs at its Lynemouth site. The European Community's Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCPD), which governs large plants claims it should emit only 5,300 tonnes of NOx and 4,200 tonnes of SO2[7].

The UK government had argued that the plant should be exempt because the combustion process was used directly for manufacturing, and that the environmental issues should be balanced against the social and economic costs of closing the plant. But the ECJ did not allow this interpretation of the law[8]. In June 2010 Rio Tinto Alcan agreed to comply with the judgement by joining the National Emissions Reduction Plan (NERP) under which it can buy sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) credits. RTA will need to buy around 2,200 NO2 credits and 13,800 SO2 credits which will cost several million pounds. In the long term Rio Tinto Alcan will be meeting with appropriate bodies to negotiate its difficulties with meeting targets[9].


Notes

  1. Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive Accessed 21/07/10
  2. Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses Accessed 21/02/2012
  3. Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses Accessed 21/02/2012
  4. Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses Accessed 21/02/2012
  5. Richard Wachman, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 Rio Tinto blames carbon tax for 515 job losses Accessed 21/02/2012
  6. Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive Accessed 21/07/10
  7. Peter McCusker, The Journal, June 11, 2010 Saturday Alcan to spend millions to meet pollution guidelines Accessed 21/07/10
  8. Richard Macrory, ENDS Report, May 25, 2010 Case commentary - ECJ rejects UK's attempt to exclude smelter from EU emissions directive Accessed 21/07/10
  9. Peter McCusker, The Journal, June 11, 2010 Saturday Alcan to spend millions to meet pollution guidelines Accessed 21/07/10