Three more years

Tiwai Point smelter will stay open for at least another three years:

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will stay open until at least 2018, with a new agreement reached between owner New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) and electricity suppliers Meridian and Contact.

The revised contract will see 572MW of energy supplied to the smelter until 2030, with NZAS able to reduce the load or terminate the deal altogether from 2018, depending on market conditions.

“We have crossed a hurdle today and now have more certainty about our immediate future,” says NZAS chief executive Gretta Stephens.

“The agreement provides short-term security for the smelter and allows time for market fundamentals to improve.” . . .

Aluminium is a commodity and like many others, including dairy produce, it is in the midst of a downturn.

The announcement the smelter will stay open will be a relief to the hundreds of people working there, the businesses which service and supply it and the wider Southland economy.

It is probably good news for Meridian and Contact shareholders too. Even though the smelter gets power at a discounted price, losing such a big customer would have hurt the companies, though it might have meant lower power prices for the rest of us.

27 Responses to Three more years

  1. Gravedodger says:

    Also just as NZ Milk and the downstream product is some of the finest available, Tiwai Aluminium is world class for quality and has the distinct advantage in the three potlines being powered with 100% renewable energy.

    Rio Tinto are riding a donkey to suggest that the longterm future of Tiwai is not good for business, Yes some smelting operations can produce cheaper metal and or apparent better profitability but only by using subsidised energy and lower wage regimes.

    With the Bauxite right next door and the energy advantages Rio played a very cynical game and this time their bluff failed but Southland continued to profit.

    While the Bauxite mines in Australia are facing the pertinent fact of the renewables over there languishing at around 13% it makes little sense to suggest carting the Ore to an alternative smelter, so maybe The corporate beneficiaries should just shut their greedy gob and get on with what they do well, turning ore into metal ingots.

  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    We just have to manage the aluminium dross issue and and have an alternative industry in the wings when Tiwai does finally close shop.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/10466803/Safety-of-fertiliser-premix-queried

    We should be looking at the potential of our local high quality silica rather than bringing bauxite from Australia.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/business/347999/silica-smelter-feasibility-being-revisited

    The silica make far more sense to mine than lignite.

  3. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    Can you please outline any environmental and health risks typically associated with silica mining?

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, any smelting process probably produces some environmental hazards but as far as I can find out current technology is pretty manageable. They have them in Germany and more recently Venture Southland was looking at working with a German company. The advantage of mining silica in Southland is that the areas where it will be extracted have already been quarried and are not of high environmental significance. The quantities being extracted will be minor compared to lignite and coal mining and it could allow us to start our own solar industry.
    https://www.kfw-ipex-bank.de/International-financing/KfW-IPEX-Bank/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/Pressemitteilungsdetails_280384.html

  5. Mr E says:

    “probably produces some environmental hazards”

    Exactly what are these environmental hazards you are promoting?

    Also are there any health hazards?

  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    When Venture Southland were investigating it a year or so ago I grilled Steve Canny about possible environmental effects and he reassured me that they were minor. All I can find is an old issue with silica fume that is now captured and used. As far as I know Silica smelting is easier to manage environmentally than aluminium, but if you can find otherwise I would be very interested. I would like to be promoting something that isn’t safe.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silica_fume

  7. Mr E says:

    It seems, Venture Southland, The Heartland Institute, and yourself are all thinking along the same lines then.

    https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/environmental-impacts-industrial-silica-sand-frac-sand-mining

  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, Venture Southland the Heartland Institute are certainly on the same page with silica, but not for fracking it would seem. Fracking hasn’t gone down well with many farmers in Taranaki and Australia either, but there doesn’t seem to be many problems with silica.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/5233594/Gas-extraction-plan-sounds-like-nightmare

    Fracking certainly brought conservatives, farmers and environmentalists together in Australia when the reality of the industry became more widely known:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lock_the_Gate_Alliance

    http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/rural-taranaki-horrified-by-fracking-risk-2012020916#axzz3hiaZdkRQ

  9. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    You, Heartland and Venture Southland all seem to be promoting industrial silica mining. Products used for solar panel production.

    You all seem keen on the idea. This is what Heartland had to say:

    “Silica sand mining is an important part of the larger, recent revolution in domestic energy production, by which the United States is producing ever-increasing amounts of affordable clean energy by tapping into a huge supply of heretofore untouched resources.”

    Rather than head off in a tangent about fracking, lets discuss with the environmental threats you are promoting.

    Here are some quotes from the Minnesota Health department where a lot of sand is mined.

    “The recent increase of silica sand mining in Minnesota is raising community concerns about possible environmental impacts from silica sand mining. Mining may impact drinking water sources or the air we breathe.”

    “Any mine may create a pathway for chemicals and/or bacteria to more easily reach the groundwater.
    • The risks to drinking water depend on how close the mining operations are to the water table, the use of heavy equipment, leaks and spills of fuel, engine oil or other chemicals, and runoff from contaminant sources or illegally dumped waste in the mine.
    • Some frac sand mines use products called flocculants to remove silt and clay in the sand washing process. These products are generally considered to be environmentally safe; however, they often contain low concentrations of chemicals (acrylamide and DADMAC) which are of potential concern. MDH recommends monitoring of the groundwater at facilities where these chemicals are to be used to ensure safe drinking water levels are not
    exceeded.
    • Groundwater near frac sand mines may become slightly more acidic (lower in pH). This may cause minerals (like iron and manganese) to more easily dissolve, which can cause water to have unpleasant taste and odor and may cause staining. MDH recommends that pH be included in the water monitoring list for groundwater near frac sand mining operations.”

    Click to access ssmenviro.pdf

    There also seems to be a large number of people with health concerns regarding silica dust.

    https://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/frac_sand_health_and_environmental_impacts

    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/03/29/175042708/Sand-From-Fracking-Operations-Poses-Silicosis-Risk

    https://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/frack_sand_mining_doesnt_just_suck_it_blows#.UVWc4asjpEI

    I’m curious, about your promotion of silica mining. Do you think the risks discussed by industry and environmentalists are insignificant? Not worth worrying about?

  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    Goodness me, Mr E, I hadn’t realised that you were an anti fracking and silica mining activist. If you are concerned about silica mining mining in the Pebbly Hills perhaps there should be a greater level of scrutiny. At the time I was looking at it, it seemed a much better long term prospect than lignite mining and the idea of starting a new local industry in photovoltaic systems seemed a realistic one.

    Thank you for the links and the research, they were very informative and it appears that it could be a relatively safe industry as long as the dust is managed carefully and the issues around water are addressed. Many of the issues would be similar to ordinary quarrying I would have thought.

  11. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    I have not expressed a view either way, so your claims are mere speculations.

    I am interested in your views, so I can use them to help form my own. Your views seem at odds with other environmentalists concerns. They also seem at odds where your Party is against mining that impacts water quality, as you are promoting an industry that has a history of water quality and quantity controversy.

    So you tell me Dave, should I be supportive of silica mining or not?

    You have promoted the silica mining industry. Should I now consider the Green party as a party that promotes opportunities surrounded by environmental controversies?

    It does appear you are with the Heartland institute in promoting the industry and saying the risks are not real, or we should not be overly concerned about them.

    Here are some of your comments retrieved from the internet for all to see. .

    “There is an alternative to mining lignite in Southland that will provide long term benefits for the region, silica.”

    “Silica, not Lignite Should be Southland’s Future”

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    I merely stated that “We should be looking at the potential of our local high quality silica” and it seems that you have exposed some real issues. You seem to be suggesting that it isn’t worth investigation because of the environmental risks. You may be right, however I did feel it is worth a closer look before discarding it.

    At the time of the proposed lignite industry in Southland it was certainly a better alternative. However you may prove to be right in your concerns. I may have been rash to say that and if on investigation that it turns out that I was wrong, I am happy to withdraw my claims.

    You seem to be trying to force me to make a stand on silica for your own political benefit and somehow linking it all to the Heartland Institute. You have returned to your usual disingenuous and bullying argument style Mr E.

  13. Paranormal says:

    DK As normal, you need to do a bit of homework on the subject of silica mining. The insurance industry has been warning that silica is the new asbestos for over a decade:
    http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/silicosis/understanding-silicosis.html

  14. Mr E says:

    Dave
    ‘I merely stated that “We should be looking at the potential…….’
    You have done more than that Dave. In other places you have said “Silica, not Lignite Should be Southland’s Future”

    I have not suggested that it shouldn’t be investigated, just like I have not expressed and opinion about silica mining. What I have done is point out environmental concerns where sand mining has been done and question whether your promotion of silica mining is at odds with other Green Party policies and philosophies. Those questions are still hanging.

    I have also not ‘linked it all’ to the Heartland institute. I have suggested you seem to share similar views on the matters of sand mining. If that offends you, I can’t control that Dave. There are matters where I share similar views to the Green Party, but I don’t get all steamed up about it. I don’t consider the Green Party to be evil incarnate, and don’t mind sharing some of their views.

    I will tell you what I think bullying is. People who make up unkind things about other people, can be expressing bully like behaviour. That is what you are doing Dave. I have not done the things you have said I have done, and I think you are bullying to suggest so.

    It seems now, nearly every time I question your views, you go to the personal, you target me rather than the issue. I can tell you Dave, I don’t think those skills will help your political ends. I think public politicians should accepted people will have different views than they will and not go on the personal attack every time they are questioned. Why would anyone blog if they didn’t expect people to question their views?

  15. Dave Kennedy says:

    ‘I merely stated that “We should be looking at the potential…….’
    You have done more than that Dave. In other places you have said “Silica, not Lignite Should be Southland’s Future”

    Sigh, read my last comment again Mr E. You can try your darnedest to make an argument and use comments from a different time and context to make a political point, but I can’t be bothered with it. If I was wrong to make that claim, so be it, I’m not dying in a ditch over it.

    I noted that last time I called you out for bullying tactics you resorted to taking great lengths to explain what a nice caring chap you are and then supposedly leaving the blog as a commenter. If you wanted to have a genuine discussion about the potential of silica, you would just have produced some of your links and we would have a discussion about its merits as an industry. Instead you try and make me appear out of step with my party, try and force me to come out to support silica with no reservations and try and link me to the Heartland Institute.

    If you want to question my my views just do so directly without all your little underlying agendas and attempts to score ‘gotcha’ points. It is all a bit obvious and your crocodile tears and fake indignation is just a theatrical performance, but doesn’t fool me or others one bit. 😉

  16. Name Withheld says:

    your crocodile tears and fake indignation is just a theatrical performance, but doesn’t fool me or others one bit

    It’s been said before, but its well worth repeating….
    You just don’t do irony, do you Mr Kennedy?

  17. Mr E says:

    Dave,
    You accuse me of dishonesty. You are wrong and I am offended by that suggestion.

    When I entered this blog I had done no research on Silica and had no idea of the controversy that could be uncovered. My questions have been 100% genuine, I had no idea of any silica controversy and I am still curious about whether your support of Silica is indeed your own view or that of your Party.

    You have seemed to back away from your Silica support, if I am reading your responses correct. But I am still not clear on it when I read comments like this.

    ” If I was wrong to make that claim, so be it, I’m not dying in a ditch over it. ”

    Last time you “called me out” I was offended then too. Mostly because you appeared to be making claims that people the blog didn’t care. That offended me then and it offends me today. If you knew me – my reputation is defined by caring. That is why I blog. I costs me dearly to come here – but I do it largely out of some sense of doing what is right. I guess your motivations are similar.

    I’m seeing an acceleration in the rate at which you turn to personal attacks on me. I have begun to wonder if it is because you perceive me as weak, or simply don’t enjoy engaging on the matters I raise.

    If the answer is that you perceive me as weak – you are right. I am not willing to listen to personal attacks that you lodge at me. Believe it or not, I respect you a lot and you accusations of dishonesty hurt me. Not because they are true, but quite simply they are comments that are never lodged at me on a day to day basis. My mother used to say – “you don’t have to listen”. That is reason number 1 for exiting this thread.

    If the answer is that you don’t like responding to my questioning, then fine. I’m not willing to engage to those that don’t want to be engaged with. Perhaps in the future, rather than lodging untrue allegations, simply tell me that your not interested in my point of view. It is a nicer way of dealing any issues. That is reason number 2 for exiting this thread.

    Ill not question you any more on your promotion of silica mining. Who would have thought it would have been such a sensitive topic? Who would have thought such simple questions would remain unanswered?

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, you love twisting things around as though you are the hurt and injured party. Follow the thread from the beginning and you will see that I was engaging with you honestly as if this may develop into an honest conversation.

    Sadly, true to past form, you skewed it around to trying to score petty political points.

    “Ill not question you any more on your promotion of silica mining.”

    I’m happy to engage in a proper discussion about it anytime, some of your earlier links were interesting, but not so happy to dodge your barbed questions and innuendo. You are one slippery fish, Mr E 😉

  19. tom hunter says:

    I can tell you Dave, I don’t think those skills will help your political ends. I think public politicians should accepted people will have different views than they will and not go on the personal attack every time they are questioned. Why would anyone blog if they didn’t expect people to question their views?

    I chuckled as I read that, remembering a comment that DK had made some threads ago, that he was here to “engage” with people rather than hanging out on Green blogs where few of his ideas encounter resistance. Even then I thought to myself: he’s here to test his arguments and how they might be sold politically. But to actually listen to anybody.

    And so it has proved, as people have presented direct, personal examples of being screwed over by things like the RMA or how they will be screwed over by Green regulations should the party make it into power – and all this has produced is a plethora of “You make good points …” blather, with no other indication that any real listening has occurred and no change of mind or heart has been achieved.

    We’re DK’s personal Focus Group.

    As a result I found it amusing to read this article the other day, lamenting the failures of the European Left: What Labour’s next leader needs to know:

    As part of its campaigning in the German elections of 2013, the SPD encouraged its activists to go out into the field and, as one insider put it, “try to get closer to what people really care about—not to tell them all about our politics, but listen and ask questions.”
    Yet voters could sense the electoral calculations behind this apparent reaching-out, and were sceptical.

  20. tom hunter says:

    But to actually listen to anybody. ?

  21. Will says:

    ‘DK’s focus group.’ That has occurred to me too Tom. But now I think he’s in the pay of Big Silica.

  22. tom hunter says:

    He should join the billions of us who belong to Big Oil. A collective like no other.

  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    Goodness me this conversation has attracted the cavalry.

    How dare I say something contentious like:
    “We should be looking at the potential of our local high quality silica”

    I’m not sure what argument I am supposed to be listening to…that we shouldn’t look at its potential as an industry?

    Mr E certainly has the local cavalry lumbering in to support him but I really am confused about what we are fighting here…Mr Es pure as snow reputation?

  24. tom hunter says:

    Yet voters could sense the electoral calculations behind this apparent reaching-out, and were sceptical.

    🙂

  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tom, you do have a low opinion of me. Perhaps you should read our policies and see how much is evidence based and how much is pure ideology. Also as far as I know the Green party hasn’t run with the silica idea, just me, as I thought it had merit.

    https://www.greens.org.nz/policy/smarter-economy

    It is amazing how many of our policies are picked up by Labour and National and claimed as their own 😉

  26. tom hunter says:

    Tom, you do have a low opinion of me

    Don’t take it personally; I have a low opinion of all political activists and politicians of all stripes.

    Without exception – and this includes National – they’re people who think they need to manage, control and regulate almost every aspect of my life in case I and others like me screw things up.

    Nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – of what the Green Party proposes outside of drugs and sex, actually moves towards leaving me the hell alone. Apparently I can’t be trusted because I’m either evil, callous, or a moron – or all three.

    Nice. You could have all the “Smarter Economy” proposals in the world and it would not overcome that base attitude towards me. And judging by that article in the left-wing Prospect magazine, I’m far from alone in sensing “the electoral calculations behind this apparent reaching-out”, and being sceptical.

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