Rio Tinto Alcan’s Lynemouth smelter was set to close its doors for the final time last week.

About 290 workers were due to finish their last shifts, and many others have already left to take up other jobs or to use up holidays owed to them.

The closure was announced by Rio Tinto Alcan last year after it said no viable buyer could be found for the smelter.

The site had been the subject of a strategic review, and the multinational firm feared it would be crippled by new green taxes being phased in over the next few years.

There is still hope that the adjacent power station will be sold and converted from coal to biomass, safeguarding the jobs of those employed there.

The company’s regional economic development director, John McCabe, said limited operations will continue in the carbon plant until the end of July and in the casting plant until the end of the year. After that, 68 workers will remain on site for the decommissioning of the plant.

Mr McCabe added that around 130 people would be interviewed by an unnamed global aluminium company which he believes is willing to take on any workers prepared to make the move to the Middle East.