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

'Tenacious': BSL aims for game-changing turnaround

THE company that struggled with production and job cuts last year is exploring new ways to increase its capabilities.

While Boyne Smelter Limited is not signing new power price deals yet, general manager Joe Rea said this week he was "feeling positive" about the future.

Last January the business was exposed to a $13,882.77 spot market power price hike, said to be caused by a heatwave ravaging the coast.

This prompted Mr Rea and smelter owner Rio Tinto to unleash a crusade against power generators, at times accusing some of "gaming" the system.

Within three months of the almost $14,000 price hike, some BSL workers lost their jobs and the smelter decreased its electricity usage and production.

Twelve months later, the spot market's price peaked $11,415.13 lower than last year's dizzying heights, leading some to believe the electricity market is improving.

This month the spot market power price reached more than $1000 twice, both times on January 13 at $2467.64 and at $1765.12.

Mr Rea said electricity prices were not yet "internationally competitive".

 

Aerials of Boyne Smelter Limited (BSL) from early 2013. Photo Contributed
Aerials of Boyne Smelter Limited (BSL) from early 2013. Photo Contributed Contributed

Meanwhile, the business has started a trial for improvements that could generate more aluminium, without using more electricity.

"We have faced the challenge of last year's job and production losses in our usual tenacious way," Mr Rea said.

"We are expanding a trial of modifying our reduction cells in Line 2, which will hopefully see us convert 240 cells to make an additional 9200 tonnes of metal with no additional power.

"We're all very proud of this work."

Mr Rea said the company remained open to negotiations with electricity generators to achieve a contract for more power.

Providing relief for the smelter is the recovering aluminium price, which has rallied from the lows of $1500 per tonne last year, to about $2200 per tonne.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the State Government's review into last year's price hike had improved the market's operators and producers.

"Obviously at this time last year those spikes were highly unusual and there needed to be work done to stop that from happening again," he said.

"The results of the investigations look as though they've helped with this year's smaller spike.

"We've had some hot days here, hotter than last year's, and to only have those minimal spikes is a good result."

The State Government received no kudos from Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd for the smaller price hike though.

Mr O'Dowd said the State Government should give BSL control of its own electricity bidding.

"The Palaszczuk State Government needs to get out of the way and give 100 per cent control to BSL over their bidding," Mr O'Dowd said.



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