Kurri Kurri may never produce aluminium again or give school leavers the chance to earn a tidy living on their doorstep.
Norsk Hydro senior vice-president Olaf Wigstol announced yesterday the Kurri Kurri plant would be mothballed within three months and that many of the 344 remaining employees would be made redundant.
“A small number of employees will remain after the majority have been made redundant,” he said.
Financial reports revealed the plant had lost more than $6 million a month while the Australian dollar was at parity with the US dollar and while aluminium was essentially given away at $2000 a metric tonne.
While cited as the primary reasons for the plant’s closure, the workforce has gradually dwindled from 900 a decade ago.
That the plant was struggling had been rammed home by a dismal third quarter result in April, which showed the company’s international profits took a dive from $191 million to $94m.
The global metal maker confirmed yesterday it would shut pot lines 2 and 3, built in 1981 and 1985, within three months.
Mr Wigstol said Hydro had sought a buyer for the plant as a going concern but failed to attract a single bidder.
“We have instead chosen to mothball the plant until such time that it might be restarted,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in the surrounding land, to put a value on the plant is difficult.”
Mr Wigstol said the plant could remain mothballed indefinitely.
“There is no point where we would sell it at scrap value,” he said.
“We have the ability to keep it mothballed indefinitely in the case aluminium manufacturing became attractive again.”