Meridian was approached by Pacific Aluminium, a business unit of global mining giant Rio Tinto Ltd, the majority shareholder of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Ltd (NZAS), in July 2012, to discuss potential changes to its existing electricity contract.
Since talks began, various options have been discussed and Meridian has offered a number of changes and concessions to the existing contract.
Chief Executive of Meridian Energy, Mark Binns, says that Meridian has advised Pacific Aluminium of its 'bottom line' position.
"Despite significant effort by both parties there remains a major gap between us on a number of issues, such that we believe that it is unlikely a new agreement can be reached with Pacific Aluminium," says Mr Binns.
In the event no agreement can be reached, Meridian will seek to engage with Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Chemical Company Ltd, the shareholders of NZAS, who will ultimately decide on the future of the smelter.
Meridian signed a new contract with NZAS in 2007, after three years of negotiations. This current contract commenced on 1 January 2013 and remains unaltered and binding on the parties.
In October 2011, Rio Tinto announced it would restructure its worldwide aluminium business and said interests in six of its Australian and New Zealand assets (including the smelter at Tiwai Point) would be transferred into a new business unit called Pacific Aluminium, and sold.