The Rio Tinto-owned Boyne Smelter Limited.
The Rio Tinto-owned Boyne Smelter Limited. Contributed

Speculation rising over potential BSL, QAL and Yarwun sale

SPECULATION is rising over a possible sale of Rio Tinto's aluminium assets in Gladstone.

It's believed a portfolio of Rio Tinto's Gladstone assets, including Queensland Alumina Limited, Boyne Smelter Limited and Rio Tinto Yarwun, is gaining interest from potential buyers.

The Australian reported this week that "several interested parties" are believed to be looking closely at the assets.

The interest was sparked by the aluminium price rally earlier this year, which averaged around $US1870 per tonne.

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The concept behind the sales would be to sell off "non-core assets" to allow Rio Tinto to focus on their tier-one iron ore businesses.

But Rio Tinto refused to comment yesterday, adding the company "does not comment on market speculation".

Meanwhile a Rio Tinto second quarter report confirmed production at the three sites has dropped this year.

Production from Queensland Alumina Limited and Rio Tinto Yarwun dropped because of weather impacts caused by Cyclone Debbie.

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Rio Tinto Yarwun's alumina production dropped to 778,000 tonnes in the second quarter of this year, in comparison to 823,000 in the same period last year.

Quarterly aluminium production was one per cent lower than the same time last year, mainly because of the job and cell cuts at Boyne Island Smelter as a result of high power prices.

The site made an 8% cut to production and more than 100 jobs were lost.

Boyne Smelter produced 76,000 tonnes of aluminium between March and July this year, down from 86,000 in 2016.

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