In an unexpected communication, EDS has been advised by the Chief Executive of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS), Stewart Hamilton, that the company has made some fresh commitments to responsibly manage the waste products from its operations.
“Late last year EDS commenced legal proceedings against NZAS seeking urgent removal of Ouvea Premix from a flood-prone site at Mataura. These proceedings settled recently with an agreement to remove the material on an urgent basis. The costs of removal were to be shared between the company and government agencies,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.
“EDS is now very pleased to note that following changes in senior board and management positions at Rio Tinto, the majority shareholder in NZAS, further steps are being taken to address and pay for the New Zealand company’s clean-up obligations at its Tiwai Point site and in the Invercargill environs.
“These commitments followed a recent meeting between the new CEO of Rio Aluminium, Ivan Vella, and Mr Hamilton, with senior government Ministers Robertson, Parker and Woods earlier in May.
“Over 2021 and beyond, NZAS has advised EDS it has made the following commitments regarding Ouvea Premix, Spent Cell Liner and ground contamination:
“Whilst EDS contends that all of these undertakings are what should be expected from a responsible corporate citizen, they are nonetheless very welcome and represent a fundamentally changed approach to what we experienced in the early phases of the litigation.
“In particular, it is noteworthy that the company is completely taking over previous agreements for government funding contributions and meeting all costs itself.
“We commend NZAS, Rio Aluminium and Rio Tinto on its new approach to environmental management at the Tiwai Site,” Mr Taylor concluded.