The head of the Tiwai Pt smelter says the operation needs "tens of millions" of dollars a year in relief to be viable and warned the Government not to wait if it is to consider intervening.

Stew Hamilton, the chief executive of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, said that while the smelter had lobbied for relief in the past, Rio Tinto's announcement of a strategic review meant the situation was more serious than in the past.

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