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Foundry Daily News

17. August 2009

EU directives will close down most aluminium industry in UK

Telegraph reported that for years the largest employer on the island of Anglesey has been the large aluminium plant near Holyhead, providing 540 jobs.

Because aluminium production is unusually energy intensive, the plant is also the largest electricity user in Wales. It has only been kept viable by a mutually beneficial deal with the nearby Wylfa nuclear power station which has long been supplying the massive 250 MW of electricity needed to keep its smelting process in operation at a discount price.

Last week, however, it was confirmed that the plant will close on September 30. The reason is that Wylfa recently passed into state ownership when it was acquired by the Government's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The NDA's lawyers therefore had to tell the aluminium plant's owners that, under EU law, the discount deal now constituted "state aid" and would no longer be legal.

This will leave Britain with just one large remaining aluminium plant at Lynemouth in Northumberland. This uses its own purpose built coal fired power station to produce even more aluminium than Anglesey.

But in this case Brussels has ruled that the power plant fails to comply with its Large Combustion Plants directive. So it too will have to close, with the loss of 600 more jobs and almost all that remains of our aluminium production. In a neat double whammy for the EU, another efficient British industry passes into history.

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