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Offer to keep Alcoa Vic smelter open

AAP logoAAP 20/12/2016 Angus Livingston

Two Australian ministers will make their pitch to save hundreds of jobs at a struggling aluminium smelter when they meet with executives in New York on Wednesday.

Federal and Victorian industry ministers Greg Hunt and Wade Noonan will make an offer to Alcoa to keep its Portland smelter going, after the struggling plant was hit with a power failure that damaged equipment.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to comment on reports Alcoa would be given $100 million to keep the plant open, but he said an offer would be made.

"I won't go into the details of exactly how much at this stage," Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.

"There's been discussions with the company over many months now.

"I thought it was important that the minister travel to New York, meet with the senior Alcoa team and put an offer to them.

"I'm confident that following the discussions we've had and given the nature of that offer, I'm confident that we certainly are doing everything possible to secure these jobs."

Earlier this month, the smelter was crippled when it lost power for five-and-a-half hours after an interconnector from Victoria to South Australia failed.

One of the plant's pot lines hasn't been operating since it was damaged during the power failure.

In May, workers at the plant agreed to a one-year pay freeze to allow for conditions to stabilise, saving the company $1.5 million.

Funding for the power station could be sourced from the federal government's Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr Hunt flagged on Sunday.

However, the Greens said that funding could run into issues if a gas plant was pursued.

"It is questionable whether a proposed new gas power station would meet the CEFC's investment rules or whether the project would even be financially viable," energy spokesman Adam Bandt said.

Australian Workers Union secretary Ben Davis said the Greens didn't understand how much damage the closure of the plant would do to the Victorian economy.

"There are 680 people employed full time at the smelter, which is Victoria's largest single exporter. Another 2000 jobs depend on its operation," Mr Davis said on Tuesday.

"Closure would cause catastrophic damage to Portland and the region."

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