New Zealand's Aluminum Smelter

NZAS

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.

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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

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

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.

$394 MILLION

Annual spend around New Zealand

694,000

Equivalent household electricity usage

$600 MILLION

Annual export earnings generated

In the News

PANZ financial results released

Rio Tinto’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Pacific Aluminium (New Zealand) Limited (PANZ) has reported financial results relating to its interest in New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Limited (NZAS), showing an underlying net profit of NZ$102.977M for 2023 financial year.

10 June, 2024

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Tiwai smelter to stay open in 20-year deal

The aluminium smelter at Tiwai in Southland has secured energy supply from three generators until at least 2044, giving certainty to employees and the local community, and supporting New Zealand’s contribution to a low carbon future.

31 May, 2024

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Operational Data

738

Employees

257

Contractors

335,871

Production (2022) in tonnes

1971

Commenced Production

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ACCESS PERMIT

Access Permit to Tiwai Peninsula

Tiwai Point

LEARN MORE ABOUT TIWAI

Learn about our aluminium

Sustainability

STORIES ABOUT OUR PEOPLE

Go behind the gates and discover why Tiwai, our people and our pure metal is so special to Southland, New Zealand and beyond.

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