Southwest Indiana’s Christmas became a little merrier when Alcoa Corp. announced this week that the aluminium smelter in Warrick County took steps to resume production for the first time in almost two years.
Company spokesperson Jim Beck told local media on Wednesday that one of the plant’s three idled potlines was recently re-energized, which is the first step to returning those lines to full production.
The move, which was first hinted at in an announcement in the summer, is part of Alcoa’s plan to put back into operation three of the site’s five potlines by next spring. Per Beck, the restart is currently on schedule for bringing the three lines back into production in early April.
Aluminium production at Warrick was halted in March 2016, a casualty of a market-related move by Alcoa. Once the largest aluminium smelter in the United States, as yet there are no plans for bringing the remaining two lines back into production.
According to the firm, the trio of potlines will run at a rate of 161,400 metric tons per annum upon full restart. Primary aluminium smelted at the location will feed the on-site rolling mill, which turns out flat-rolled aluminium for sale to North American clients seeking the metal for use in food and beverage packaging applications.
The move, which is estimated to cost Alcoa around US$35 million, will reduce the firm’s idled capacity to 886 thousand metric tons. All in the firm is estimated to have an overall aluminium-smelting capacity of 3.4 million metric tons per annum.
December has been a busy month for the Pittsburgh-based aluminium pioneer. Alcoa announced late last week the closing of operations at Rockdale, Texas, and the sale of its aluminium smelter at Portovesme to the Italian government. The Portovesme smelter was subsequently purchased by a Swiss firm from the state with an eye to returning it to full production in the near future.