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Rio Tinto to shutter aluminum smelter in New Zealand

High power costs and weak demand from auto industry sink operations

Aluminum prices are down due to weak demand from the auto sector.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Rio Tinto will shut down its money-losing aluminum smelting operations in New Zealand by August 2021, after failing to negotiate a new electricity contract that could allow the business to be competitive, the company said Thursday.

The smelter is "not economically viable due to energy costs that are some of the highest in the industry globally, coupled with a challenging short to medium term aluminum outlook," the Anglo-Australian miner said in a statement.

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