Page last updated at 21:25 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 22:25 UK

Rethink over offer to save jobs

Molten metal at AAM
Hundreds of jobs could go at the plant

The owners of Anglesey Aluminium are to reconsider a UK Government rescue deal worth almost £50m to help safeguard hundreds of jobs at the Holyhead plant.

Politicians discussed the package with the plant's owners in a three-hour meeting in London on Monday.

The plant's majority shareholder, Rio Tinto Alcan, had originally rejected the offer, saying it was too little.

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain said the board members would discuss it further on Tuesday.

Last week the company announced 250 redundancies, following 140 voluntary redundancies the previous week. If the plant closes, 80 people will be kept on to maintain the site.

The plant currently buys electricity cheaply from the nearby Wylfa Power Station.

Jobs will be lost, and metal production will come to an end on the site at the end of September, when that deal comes to an end.

I hope the full board will carefully reconsider our generous offer and the obligation they have to the people of Anglesey
Secretary of State Peter Hain

Before the meeting, Mr Hain said there was a "glimmer" of hope the plant could be saved.

One way forward would be to rearrange the rescue package, he said.

"It would remain in the same envelope - same total over four years, but given the high price of aluminium it could be front loaded," he said.

Mr Hain denied the rescue package would only provide a short-term solution, because part of the "obligation and purpose" of the money was to construct a new bio-mass power station on the site, to provide "long-term, secure" electricity supply.

"If we can keep the company going, and the plant going, over that period, which is what the public investment is about, then it has a secure future," he said.

"The question is how we get from A to B."

In a statement issued after the meeting, Mr Hain said that the directors from Rio Tinto Alcan and Kaiser Aluminium - who own Anglesey Aluminium - agreed they wanted to keep the plant open were it not for the high cost of electricity.

"They also agreed that Anglesey Aluminium remains a high performing and efficient plant, one of the best in the world," he said.

"We all understand the commercial pressures under which Anglesey Aluminium currently operates but I hope the full board will carefully reconsider our generous offer and the obligation they have to the people of Anglesey following 40 years of aluminium production on the island."

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