Prior to announcing plans to offload its alumina and smelting businesses, Rio Tinto set up Pacific Aluminium and transferred its aluminium assets into the new and separately managed company. The assets in question were the Gove bauxite mine and alumina refinery and three smelters at Boyne, Tomago and Bell Bay.

Rio is also planning to divest its New Zealand Aluminium smelters.

Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings said the deal has lifted a ‘cloud of uncertainty’ hanging over the region.

Bell Bay’s good news, however, is tarnished by the closure of Norsk Hydro’s Kurri Kurri operation in Tasmania.

Earlier this week in Australia, a multi-million dollar Federal Government rescue was announced for Alcoa’s Point Henry facility in Geelong, Victoria. The plant received a US$42M cash injection with conditions attached – it must maintain current production levels and remain open until at least July 2014.