3 November 2016
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant raised the issue of the future of Lochaber’s Rio Tinto aluminium smelter in the Scottish Parliament today.
She has also lodged several Parliamentary Questions and has written to the company after raising concerns over the lack of detail coming from Rio Tinto following its long awaited review.
Mrs Grant asked the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing:
“Can I ask what discussions he has had with the company, does he know who the proposed buyer is and what support can he offer them and the employees in Fort William at this difficult time?”
The MSP, who is Labour’s Rural Economy and Connectivity spokeswoman, also highlighted that the firm was a crucial industry in Lochaber with 150 jobs directly employed and many more supported in the wider community.
Mr Ewing replied that the smelter was a national asset and he wanted the best outcome for the workers and the community, adding that he was hopeful aluminium smelting would continue in the area for many generations to come.
Mrs Grant added: “Mr Ewing also stated the smelter should be ‘top priority for Lochaber’.
"This certainly sounds hopeful for the continuation of the plant and I look forward to an early announcement that the smelter will remain in Fort William.”
Last week Mrs Grant said:
“I am concerned about the lack of transparency, especially as there are so many skilled jobs reliant on Rio Tinto remaining in Lochaber.
“It has been many months since the firm started this process and, although I have had a number of meetings with the local management and found them very approachable, the amount of information on the table is now very scant.”