Highlands & Islands

Concerns raised about Lochaber smelter jobs

Fort William Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The small populations of Fort William and wider Lochaber area would be hit hard by job losses, a meeting has heard

Concerns have been raised at a meeting involving the Scottish government and Highland Council about the impact of job losses in Lochaber.

Last month, workers at Rio Tinto's aluminium smelter at Fort William were told operations at the plant were under review.

The site is one of Lochaber's biggest employers and has about 150 workers.

The meeting heard that because of the area's small population the impact of losing those jobs would be "huge".

The gathering in Fort William also heard of money the government, local authority and development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have invested in Lochaber.

Stuart Black, Highland Council's director of development and infrastructure, said: "The recent announcement of the strategic review of the Rio Tinto smelter whose importance as a major employer in the Lochaber economy is seven times as significant as the Tata Steel works to Lanarkshire.

"The impact of around 150 potential redundancies and the knock on effect on local contractors and suppliers within the local economy would be huge."

He added: "Highland Council is keen to hear local concerns regarding employment and to see what it can do to further support the Lochaber economy."

Business Minister Fergus Ewing and local business leaders also attended the meeting.

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