According to local media, the new owners of western Scotland’s Lochaber smelter intend to use it to produce aluminium automotive parts.
Aberdeen newspaper The Press and Journal reported yesterday that Liberty House Group intends to convert the Alcan plant into producing aluminium alloys and hubcaps for sale to the automotive industry.
Liberty House will complete the US$414 million purchase of the smelter from Rio Tinto next week. The firm’s purchase of the ninety-six-year-old plant saves the jobs of 150 of the plant’s workers. The plant, which is the last of its kind in the United Kingdom, churns out 40,000 metric tons of aluminium per annum.
The newspaper says that Liberty House representatives have made the plant’s workers aware of the plans. According to one source, the retooling could lead to the addition of another six hundred positions at the plant.
A Liberty House representative did not confirm the plans when the newspaper contacted him, but did go on record as saying, “We hope to complete the acquisition very soon. At that point we will be happy to discuss details.”
Ian Blackford, Lochaber’s member of parliament, greeted the move with approbation.
“I did believe there was an opportunity for the facility at Fort William to move more downstream,” he opined. “It makes an awful lot of sense. When you look at the operation, it’s very much on the small scale. But there’s a shift towards the use of aluminium in the UK.”
“It would seem to me to be eminently sensible,” he went on.
Although glad to hear of the potential new positions the plans may open at the plant, Blackford indicated that such a development would present a challenge to the already scarce affordable housing in the area.
“It does raise a very important point. I think there’s a principle for me that we need more appropriate land for housing in Lochaber,” he said.