John meets Rio Tinto bosses over Fort William smelter jobs fears

Photo: Andrew Bowden. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Photo: Andrew Bowden. CC BY-SA 2.0.
John Finnie met with senior Rio Tinto Alcan management in the Scottish Parliament yesterday to discuss the company’s review of its assets, including the smelter at Fort William, its hydroelectric power station at Kinlochleven and the 116,000 acres of mountain terrain it owns in Lochaber.

Attending the meeting were senior staff from the company’s Montreal base: Pierre Chenard, Senior Vice President, Patrick Tobin, Vice President and Brian King, General Manager of the Lochaber Smelter.

Speaking after the meeting, John said,

“I am grateful to the Rio Tinto officials who met with me in the Scottish Parliament.

“I was impressed by the open nature of our meeting which mirrored an earlier conversation with the local manager, Brian King.

“Like every other listed company, Rio Tinto’s has an obligation to its shareholders. However, I impressed on them the very significant social responsibility the company has to Lochaber and the loyal, efficient workforce it has there.

“I am reassured to hear that important stakeholders such as Scottish Development International, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland Council are working closely with the company and that all options, including the status quo remain on the table.

“The smelter’s own hydro station is capable of generating more hydro power than the plant needs, and I understand that the option of selling clean energy into the National Grid is being explored.

“Lochaber needs the smelter and I’d like to think that, notwithstanding the global challenges around aluminium, Rio Tinto needs Lochaber.

“I know it’s a difficult ask, but I trust everyone can be patient and let this review run its course.

“I’ve been campaigning for a nationwide plan to make Scotland a world leader in renewable energy production. I want the smelter to still be going strong when we get there, so that the great Scottish clean-energy engineering of the future will be constructed from Lochaber aluminium.”