Per the Spanish government, Liberty House is a front-runner to buy Alcoa’s San Ciprián smelter, noting that the two firms are planning on seven weeks of negotiations prior to the emergence of a final deal for the 228 thousand metric tons per annum plant.
Both the regional and national governments issued a statement about the talks, noting it is one of a series of proposals aimed at keeping the smelter in business. Already agreed to by Alcoa is an extension through the end of next month of the existing negotiation period, which would keep the plant running and forestall up to 600 layoffs at the site.
Alcoa and Liberty House have been assigned a date of September 27 for coming to an agreement, and a joint commission of government officials and labor representatives will be formed in order to monitor progress.
Alcoa previously announced a failure to come to terms with labor on a new contract at the site just over a week ago, leaving the firm 15 days to decide upon the plant’s fate. The aluminium firm said it presented the labor union with a wide range of alternatives, including temporary dismissal into Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo (ERTE) for two years and an offer to sell the plant to another company. However, none of the alternatives were ultimately agreed upon by both parties.
Alcoa sold its two other smelters last year to a Swiss firm. Meanwhile, Liberty House has made an aggressive move into the aluminium sector, with recent purchases of Europe’s biggest smelter in Dunkerque and the United Kingdom’s only remaining aluminium smelter in Fort William, Scotland.
Both alumina refining and aluminium smelting operations are carried out at the San Ciprián site. Alcoa says the changes planned for the aluminium-smelting operation will have no effect upon operations at the alumina refinery.
The San Ciprián aluminium smelter produces ingots, billets, and sheets of primary aluminium.