Nau mai haere mai!
Welcome to Tiwai Point, home to New Zealand’s only aluminium smelter, located across the harbour from Bluff in Southland. Each year the smelter produces more than 330,000 tonnes of the world’s purest aluminium using electricity from renewable sources.
We are Tiwai
This is a special place. It shapes a special kind of people, a special culture. People like us never settle for good enough. With strong hands and sharp minds we harness pure energy to forge the world’s purist and most sustainable aluminium, a world-beating product that can be recycled almost infinitely. We make a key structural material of the 21st century, with about 90 per cent of our aluminium exported around the world to be used in cutting-edge devices and technologies that power the world. Without aluminium modern industries such as construction, automotive, aviation, energy, and food couldn’t exist.
Tiwai Point was an important pre-colonisation stone tool-making site for Maori that was in use from around 1300. The argillite stone was perfect for making adzes, and those made by stone from the area were used widely for moa hunting, sealing, smaller bird hunting and fishing.
Peak occupation of the site was between 1400 to the mid-1600s, and archaelogical research has been undertaken to identify points of interest.
In the 1960s, Tiwai Point was identified as being suitable for a smelter. The smelting of aluminium requires a large and reliable power source to continually supply electricity to reduction cells, which is why the proximity to the then-proposed Manapouri Power Station (built for the smelter) was vital to its success.
It also needed to be located close to a deep water port to bring the raw materials (alumina refined from bauxite, plus pitch and coke), and a skilled labour pool (from Invercargill, about 25km away).
After a short construction period, industrial-scale manufacturing returned to Tiwai Point in 1971 when the first aluminium was produced from the two Reduction lines. A third line was added in 1983, while the smaller fourth Reduction line began production in 1996.
NZAS is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (79.36%) and Sumitomo Chemical Company (20.64%), of Japan.
Economic contribution to NZ
Each year, NZAS contributes about $406 million to the Southland economy (6.5% of Southland's GDP) with annual export revenue of about $1 billion.
About 1000 fulltime-equivalent employees and contractors work at the smelter, with a further 2200 people offsite employed indirectly.
Annual spend around New Zealand
Equivalent household electricity usage
Annual export earnings generated
Production (2022) in tonnes