The Government’s proposed carbon tax could put the future of hundreds of jobs in the cement industry in doubt, Holcim says.
The Swiss-owned cement business employs 600 in New Zealand and is Westport’s biggest employer, with 120 on the payroll.
Managing director Rex Williams said the proposed $25 a tonne levy on carbon issues - which the Government is committed to as part of its ratification of the Kyoto protocol on climate change - would cost $12.5m a year for his business and would put its future in jeopardy.
The Christchurch-run cement business is a heavy energy user because of the high temperatures needed to fire its kilns. It produces half of New Zealand’s annual one million tonnes of cement.
"Westport Works would find it very difficult to compete with Asia-Pacific plants if the Government was to impose a carbon tax on cement production," a company report says.
Holcim has begun negotiating with the Government for a negotiated greenhouse agreement.
Mr Williams said there was plenty of competition to fill the void if Holcim was not producing cement.
"The simple fact is if we don’t produce the cement in New Zealand, it will be produced overseas. There will be just as much carbon produced there as there would be here."
Holcim should know by the end of the year what its future would be. "We are hopeful of negotiating a deal."