Uncertain future for Boyne Smelter workers, as more cells removed

BOYNE Smelter Limited has revealed it has moved to cut its production, and potentially jobs, as they continue their saga with the state's electricity generators.

At the weekend BSL halved its excess electricity usage from 140MWph to 70, after it removed 24 aluminium-producing cells.

>> EXPLAINED: Who's saying what in Boyne Smelter power price battle

>> 'It's hurting': BSL boss desperate to save local jobs 

This takes its cell-removal to 44 since January 14, which will drop its aluminium production by 45,000 tonnes this year.

BSL has previously said if 40 cells were cut for the year, as initially announced, jobs would be lost.

Boyne Smelters general manager operations Joe Rea announced job cuts due to increased power prices.
Boyne Smelters general manager operations Joe Rea announced job cuts due to increased power prices. Mike Richards GLA200117bsljobs

"We are currently analysing what other operational options we have if a competitive price cannot be secured," general manager Joe Rea said.

Still not confirming if and how many jobs could be lost, BSL says negotiations are continuing on the price they have to pay for 70MWph of power.

The remaining 810MWph they use comes at a fixed price from the Gladstone Power Station.

Listen: Interview with Joe Rea last month



The issue also reached Canberra, with Senator and Resources Minister Matthew Canavan throwing his support behind BSL when he was asked about the importance of the coal industry in Australia this week.

"If you do not support a coal industry - if you do not support coal-fired power - we will not make aluminium in this country and we will not have jobs for people like (the workers) at the Boyne Island smelter," he told Senators on February 14.

The smelter announced it would cut production and jobs following an electricity price hike mid-January, that saw the spot market price rocket to more than $13,000MWph. BSL says it will provide another update in coming weeks.

Peak power

These are the highest electricity prices in Queensland so far this month, according to the Australian Electricity Market Operator:

February 2: 1183.1

February 6: 993.62

February 10: 793.05

Average price for 2017: 96.73

Average price for 2016: 59.99

Average price for 2015: 52.52