The action followed a move by South Africa’s government and energy supplier Eskom to terminate an energy supply deal for the 720kt/y shelter planned for Coega in the Eastern Cape province.

Alcan Inc, later Rio Tinto Alcan, entered an electricity supply agreement with Eskom in 2006 ahead of a wave of power blackouts in early 2008 that shut down key industries.

To finance new infrastructure, the energy giant this week pushed for a 45% annual tariff rise over three years after introducing two tariff hikes that average 59% since last year.

Rio Tinto Alcan and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation had invested some $130M in the project since 2006, with construction originally scheduled to start last September.