Talks to secure power for Neuss continue

November 4, 2005, 16:00 CET

Juergen Ruettgers, prime minister of Northrhein Westfalia, will moderate talks between Hydro and power suppliers in December to secure power supply on acceptable terms for the primary aluminium plant in Neuss.

This was one outcome of top level talks in Berlin on Friday about the challenges facing the German aluminium industry.

"I am pleased with the commitment of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and other key political leaders to support the continuation of the German aluminium industry over the long term. This industry represents more than 70,000 jobs in Germany," said Hydro’s president Eivind Reiten after the meeting in the German capital.

"Unfortunately we have to recognize that the political effort to ensure continued operations in HAW and Stade comes too late and that the decisions to close these plants cannot be revisited."

Eivind Reiten met with the German chancellor, the prime ministers for Lower Saxony and Northrhein Westphalia, respectively, Christian Wulff and Juergen Ruettgers, and the Mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust, on the future of the German aluminium industry. The decisions to close the jointly owned Hamburger Aluminium-Werk, HAW, and the fully Hydro-owned plant in Stade were also brought up during the discussions. The decision by the three partners Alcoa, AMAG and Hydro to close HAW by the end of the year stands. The same goes for Hydro’s decision to close Stade by the end of next year.

High power prices are a serious threat to energy-intensive industry in Germany. This is an industry-wide problem, not limited to Hydro. As a relief, Germany, like other EU member states, should implement transitional measures until current malfunctioning of the electricity market is corrected.

This places the future of the German aluminium industry is in the hands of the German government.

"For several years, Hydro has had extensive dialogue with the German government – including several meetings with the chancellor – about the threat that steep power price increases pose for the aluminium industry," explained Reiten.

"German politicians have known all along what would happen unless a better functioning energy market in Germany brings power prices down to a more normal level."

Hydro is the leading aluminium supplier in Germany. Hydro is committed to saving its operation in Neuss and the many downstream operations that account for more than 5,000 jobs in Germany.

Hamburg’s mayor, Ole von Beust, recognized our efforts in ensuring viable operations for the casthouse and the rolling mill in Hamburg, ensuring more than 600 aluminium industry jobs in the city. The mayor was, however, sad that politics could not help save the approximately 450 jobs associated with electrolyses and anode fabrication at HAW.