EDS welcomes surprise advice from New Zealand Aluminum Smelters Ltd
In an unexpected communication, EDS was informed by New Zealand Aluminum Smelters Ltd (NZAS) CEO Stewart Hamilton that the company has made new commitments to responsibly manage waste from its operations.
“At the end of last year, EDS started legal proceedings against NZAS to request the urgent removal of Ouvea Premix from a flood-prone site in Mataura. These procedures were recently settled with an agreement to remove the material in an emergency. The moving costs were to be shared between the company and government agencies, ”said Gary Taylor, CEO of EDS.
“EDS is now very pleased to note that following the changes in leadership and management positions at Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder of NZAS, further steps are being taken to meet and pay for the cleaning obligations of the New Zealand company at its Tiwai Point site and in the vicinity of Invercargill.
“These commitments follow a recent meeting between Rio Aluminum’s new CEO, Ivan Vella, and Mr. Hamilton, with senior government ministers Robertson, Parker and Woods earlier in May.
“During 2021 and beyond, NZAS informed EDS that it has made the following commitments regarding Ouvea Premix, Spent Cell Liner and soil contamination:
· Speed up the transfer of the Mataura Ouvea premix to Tiwai Point, as agreed with EDS. As of May 17, 3,000 tonnes of materials remain stored in Mataura. Progress will continue over the next few weeks until approximately 1,500 tonnes remain. NZAS will then wait for the arrival of other shipping containers (from China) in mid-June to complete the pickup.
· Remove any Spent Cell Liner from the Tiwai site upon eventual closure.
· Share 20 years of groundwater monitoring results from the Spent Cell Liner platform and landfill with the appropriate authorities.
· Share the sampling plan for on-site soil contamination with the competent authorities.
· Work with Environment Southland and Ngāi Tahu to develop further sampling plan requirements and evaluate options for dealing with sampling results.
· Gradually move the Ouvea Premix currently stored in all other Invercargill locations to the Tiwai site when space permits.
· To finance the shortfall in processing costs for all of Ouvéa’s other premixes.
Take full responsibility for funding the TAHA Ouvea Premix material from Mataura and in doing so, fulfill current funding commitments from the Department of Environment, Invercargill City Council, Southland Environment, District Council de Gore and the owners of the building ($ 4 million).
· To remove and treat Haysoms slag buried on site. This slag was moved from Bluff about 20 years ago and has government compensation in place.
· Work with Ngāi Tahu, Southland Ministry of Environment and Environment to identify other treatment options for Ouvea Premix and Spent Cell Liner.
“While EDS maintains that all of these commitments are what one should expect from a responsible corporate citizen, they are nonetheless welcome and represent a fundamentally altered approach to what we experienced in the early stages of litigation.
“In particular, it should be noted that the company completely takes over previous agreements for financial contributions from the government and bears all the costs itself.
“We congratulate NZAS, Rio Aluminum and Rio Tinto for their new approach to environmental management at the Tiwai site,” Mr. Taylor concluded.
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