SAFETY MILESTONE: Boyne Smelters Ltd manager metal products Nigel Mullen, general manager operations Joe Rea and operations manager Kevin Taylor in the metal products area of the smelter.
SAFETY MILESTONE: Boyne Smelters Ltd manager metal products Nigel Mullen, general manager operations Joe Rea and operations manager Kevin Taylor in the metal products area of the smelter. Mike Richards

'Soul destroying': Workers will be axed at Boyne Smelter

WHAT WE KNOW:

  • A "significant number" of Boyne Smelter workers will be axed, according to general manager Joe Rea.
  • Boyne Smelter will cut production by 14%, which is 81,000 tonnes of aluminium each year.
  • Boyne Smelter is locked into a battle with energy providers, with the price of electricity rocketing. 

UPDATE: 12:31PM: 

BOYNE Smelter Limited's boss has reassured the public that "significant" cuts to production and jobs at the Smelter will not have a flow on affect to other major Gladstone industries.

That was the message from general manager Joe Rea when he faced media this morning following yesterday's "heart wrenching" announcement.

LIVE VIDEO: Boyne Smelter boss speaks out on jobs cuts

EXCLUSIVE | Listen as BSL general manager Joe Rea explains 'soul destroying' task ahead

After months of negotiations with power generators BSL has announced it could not reach an agreement to replace its position on the spot market for 14% of its electricity load.

Boyne Smelter Limited, one of Australia's largest aluminium refineries, receives alumina from Gladstone-based Queensland Alumina Limited.

"The 160,000 tonnes that we would have got (from QAL) is something they can now sell on the spot market," Mr Rea told media this morning.

"I don't expect any flow on implications for QAL at this point."

Mr Rea said workers would be involved in negotiations for jobs cuts, with talks already underway for voluntary redundancies.

"We are running sessions with our people now to get their input to help shape the organisation," Mr Rea said.

"Every time we have an issue here where we confront headwinds we involve our people, that's just the BSL way.

"We'll do whatever we can to reduce the number of people impacted, and that's why I want to listen to our people, because they have made some of the best ideas for many years."

Queensland Alumina Limited General Manager, Mike Dunstan said: "The announcement to curtail production, while extremely troubling for BSL and the Gladstone community, will have minimal impact for QAL. The quality of our alumina will allow any portion no longer required by BSL to be sold on the open market". 

More to come

UPDATE Friday 10.45am:

BOYNE Smelter Limited general manager Joe Rea will face media at 11am for a press conference about the job losses announced yesterday.

It's not expected Mr Rea will reveal a figure on how many jobs will be lost.

The Observer will publish a video of the entire press conference.

TIMELINE | SEE HOW BOYNE SMELTER'S POWER CRISIS HAS UNFOLDED

UPDATE: Thursday 7.11PM: 

BOYNE Smelter Limited general manager Joe Rea says he will move to cut production and jobs "quickly".

LATEST | 'I'm terrified': Wives of Boyne Smelter workers fear worst

Today, Mr Rea told workers they could not reach a deal with electricity generators, meaning jobs will be lost.

Mr Rea told The Observer he wanted to keep the next step of cutting jobs a "short process".

It follows almost two months of negotiating with power generators for a deal to replace BSL's 140MWh position on the fluctuating spot market.

"Whenever you go through these times, and I've been through a few myself, I've found over the years the more diligently you can do this, the better," Mr Rea said.

"You need to keep the process short because it reduces the amount of time people are left uncertain about the future.

"I'm very keen to progress and work with people quickly to reach an end point."

QAL SACKINGS | Dedicated QAL worker shown door after more than 18 years

'SOUL DESTROYING': That's how Boyne Smelter's general manager Joe Rea described the task ahead of him as he looks for a
'SOUL DESTROYING': That's how Boyne Smelter's general manager Joe Rea described the task ahead of him as he looks for a "significant number" of employees to lay off. Mike Richards


Mr Rea said he would negotiate with workers voluntary redundancies.

"Now it's time to involve our people and listen to their views and ideas on how to go forward."

More to come

EARLIER:

BOYNE Smelter Limited has told workers today a "significant number" of jobs will be lost after they were unable to secure a deal for their electricity usage.

General manager Joe Rea exclusively told The Observer it was a "heart-wrenching" decision.

He did not reveal how many jobs that would be lost, but said it was a "significant number".

"(Days) don't come much tougher than today," he said.

"It's heart-wrenching and soul destroying."

Mr Rea said this afternoon they stopped production and about 400 workers gathered in an assembly area when he delivered the news.

"They're concerned, and you have to expect that," he said.

EXPLAINED: Boyne Smelter and the Government's power price battle

When asked if they would offer voluntary redundancies, Mr Rea said, "Our employees will be able to express their preference to leave BSL by way of redundancy and we will look after those employees". 

WATCH | Boyne Smelter general manager Joe Rea explains


The aluminium smelter will cut production by 81,000 tonnes every year to drop its electricity usage.

To do this, they will take out 120 aluminium-producing cells.

BOYNE SMELTER'S POWER CRISIS | JOBS TO GO

JAN. 19, 9.20AM | 'Sad reality' Smelter to cut jobs after power price hike

FEB. 2, 5.30PM | EXCLUSIVE: 'It's hurting': BSL boss desperate to save local jobs

FEB. 16, 5.30PM | Uncertain future for Boyne Smelter workers, as more cells removed

GROUND WORK: Boyne Smelter warned of imminent job cuts last month. Since issuing that warning, it has begun cutting power cells.
GROUND WORK: Boyne Smelter warned of imminent job cuts last month. Since issuing that warning, it has begun cutting power cells. Brenda Strong

On January 19 this year, Mr Rea first revealed their electricity price battle, announcing the smelter would need to cut production and potentially jobs.

After almost two months of negotiating with the state's electricity generators, Mr Rea said they were unable to strike a deal that was "commercially competitive".

NOTE: The spot market price has risen from about $77 late last year to $14,000. It a major cause of the job cuts. 

The Boyne Smelter Limited receives 85% of its electricity from the Gladstone Power Station as part of a purchase agreement locked in until 2029.

Since late 2015, BSL has purchased the remaining 15% of electricity, about 140-150MWh, via the spot market.

More to come shortly



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