Alcoa Says Reopening Alumina Refinery at Port Comfort Must Wait

Alcoa Says Reopening Alumina Refinery at Port Comfort Must Wait
Lavaca Bay, Texas. Source: Wikimedia

Despite reopening operations at its plant in Evansville, Indiana, representatives for Alcoa Corporation informed local media in Texas that the plant at Point Comfort is likely to remain idle for the foreseeable future.

Company spokesman Jim Beck was quoted in the Victoria Advocate as saying that, though the firm regularly reevaluates the economic arguments for and against restarting a site, the parameters for firing up operations at Point Comfort have yet to be met.

“It’s being maintained as a curtailed site, meaning it could be ready if the conditions were right,” he explained.

The Point Comfort plant shut down early last year, a casualty of a difficult market for aluminium. As a result, over seven hundred employees who once worked at the plant were laid off.

“We recognize how deeply this decision impacts employees and we are committed to work closely with our employees, unions and community stakeholders to support them through this transition,” explained President of Alcoa’s Global Primary Products Roy Harvey at the time of Point Comfort’s closure. “Despite the hard work of employees, these assets are not competitive. We’re confident that these actions are the right ones in face of these challenging market conditions. We are committed to creating a resilient business ready for launch as an independent company in 2016.”

The total idled capacity for the firm would be approximately 884,000 metric tons per annum, out of a total capacity of 3.4 million metric tons per annum. Restarting the operations in Indiana will better position the company’s on-site rolling mill by giving it a steady and reliable source of raw material, he said.

“Alcoa’s global refining system will be able to supply a reliable source of alumina to meet the needs of the smelter in Indiana once the restart is complete in the second quarter of 2018,” Beck said.