AluNews - March 2005

Guyana Hoping For Major Investment in Bauxite Industry

Prensa Latina, Cuba 01-Mar-2005

Georgetown, Mar 1 (Prensa Latina) Guyana is eyeing a US$1 billion investment on its ailing bauxite sector to help stabilize the industry and provide major employment, Finance Minister, Saisnarine Kowlessar said.

Kowlessar told legislators that the largest single foreign investment here is hinged on the viability of a US$10 million feasibility study to be undertaken by the Russian Aluminium Company (RUSAL), noted the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

He said if the study is favorable "it could pave the way for the establishment of a US$1 billion alumina plant in Guyana".

"Further, if realized, this project would bring stability to the local bauxite industry, since a large amount of bauxite ore would be needed and this will create thousands of jobs during the construction and operation stages, increasing economic activities in the region and the economy as a whole," the minister said.

The Guyanese bauxite industry has been sliding for several years, and, according to Kowlessar, is now "poised for take-off this year" pointing to the recent 70:30 joint venture between the Government and the Canadian firm, Cambior, for the Linden Mining Enterprise (LINMINE).

"The new company, Omai Bauxite Mining Inc, could be the immediate beneficiary of nearly US$40 million in investment, with the first phase, involving an investment of US$24 million, being completed in July 2005," Kowlessar told Parliament during his budget presentation on Monday.

He said a second phase, requiring another US$14.5 million and "involving activities to boost production, will follow shortly thereafter. The company also expects to generate its own power by April this year."

China Co Keen On Sarawak Aluminum Plant

MALAYSIA PRESS: Yahoo News Thursday March 3, 8:44 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Dow Jones)--China's Shandong Luneng Group, a leading power producer in China, is keen on setting up an aluminum smelter plant in Sarawak, the Edge Financial Daily reports.

The group will hold preliminary discussions on the project with the government-owned company overseeing the Bakun Dam project in eastern Malaysia, Sarawak Hidro Sdn. Bhd. The report cites the Chinese embassy's economic and commercial counselor Zhang Yingwen, who was speaking to reporters following a seminar in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday.

Other interested parties include Cahya Mata Sarwawk Bhd. (2852.KU), Masco Aluminum Smelter Sdn. Bhd., BHP Billiton (BHP), the Rio Tinto group (RIO.AU), as well as a joint venture between Press Metal Bhd. (8869.KU) and a smelter in China's Henan province.

Web site:

http://www.theedgedaily.com

Bechtel Selected to Build First Oman Aluminum Plant (Update1)

March 2 (Bloomberg)

Bechtel Group Inc., the world's largest construction and engineering company, was selected for a $1.3 billion contract to build Oman's first aluminum plant, beating SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd.

San Francisco-based Bechtel ``has been selected as preferred bidder, and we will be negotiating with them the terms of the contract over the next few weeks,'' Tom Kinsman, chief executive of the project, called Sohar Aluminium Co., said today in a telephone interview from Muscat.

Sohar Aluminium, a joint venture with Canada's Alcan Inc., the Oman Oil Co. and Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, is developing a 325,000-ton aluminum plant as part of Oman's plans to diversify the country's economy away from oil.

Norsk Hydro ASA, the world's third-largest publicly traded aluminum producer, and other international companies are seeking new projects in Persian Gulf countries, such as Qatar, to benefit from low energy and labor costs.

Ashraf Samir, Bechtel's Middle East business development manager, couldn't be reached for comment.

Bechtel built the Persian Gulf's first aluminum plant, Aluminium Bahrain, in Bahrain 33 years ago.

SNC-Lavalin is based in Montreal, and Murray & Roberts is located in Johannesburg.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Dania Saadi in Dubai at

at dsaadi2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Tim Coulter at tcoulter@bloomberg.net

Ormet Union Workers Picket in Louisiana

WTRF, WV 3/2/2005 10:16 PM

Story by Jim Forbes

Several Ormet Union workers headed south to Burnside, Louisiana to picket outside Ormet's facility.

Several striking aluminum workers from the Ormet Corporation in Hannibal, Ohio headed south this week. They're are picketing outside the company's Burnside, Louisiana facility. Workers are staging a picket line at the Burnside Alumina Division which is part of Ormet's primary aluminum corporation. Leaders say they want their message of solidarity to spread to workers at the Burnside plant after being off work since November. There are 200 union workers at the Burnside, Louisiana plant, including operating engineers. These workers currently have a contract in place. Blatt says the Hannibal picket workers will stay a total of two weeks before returning home to the Ohio Valley.

Aluminum Complex to be privatised, but not at any price, Djukanovic

Tanjug News Agency Wednesday, March 02, 2005 CET

NIKSIC - Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said in Niksic on Wednesday that the government would not give up on the privatisation of the Podgorica Aluminum Complex (KAP) if talks with Russian Rusal were to fail definitely.

He pointed out that the government was committed to private, and not to state entrepreneurship, and that it would not give up on the privatisation of KAP, but not at any price.

RusAl's Montenegrin Bid in Doubt

Moscow Times, Russia Thursday, March 3, 2005. Issue 3117. Page 5.

Reuters

PODGORICA, Montenegro -- Montenegro said Tuesday that RusAl, the only bidder for a majority stake in the country's KAP aluminum plant, did not meet its requirements and a deal was highly unlikely.

RusAl's bid for 65.5 percent of Montenegro's only aluminum producer stumbled on environmental issues, a dispute over electricity prices and its failure to submit guarantees about the Cyprus-based company which would run KAP.

KAP's general manager Mihailo Banjevic said there was a Friday deadline for RusAl's final word, but a deal looked improbable.

"RusAl could not meet Montenegrin legal requirements and provide adequate guarantees for [offshore company] Salamon Enterprises. They had never offered a detailed investment plan, nor have they ever detailed a plan to deal with environmental problems," he said.

RusAl had pledged to pay 48.5 million euros ($64.08 million) for the equity stake and invest a further 55 million euros. According to government estimates, KAP has a book value of 45 million euros. It owes $110 million to Swiss-based metals-to-grains trader Glencore, Standard Bank London and Montenegro's Vectra.

If KAP's sell-off effort collapses, the government will not call a new tender, Banjevic said.

Alcoa bid tops out at $1.050 million

Elizabethton Star, TN

A local businessman was the winning bidder for the real property and facilities of the enormous Alcoa Engineering Products plant at an auction held Tuesday morning.

By Thomas Wilson , star staff , twilson@starhq.com

A relatively low bid price won an Elizabethton manufacturing owner millions of dollars in land and buildings on Tuesday morning at a public auction of the former Alcoa Engineered Products plant.

Howard Matheson submitted the winning bid of $1,050,000 to purchase the 34.4-acre property and buildings located at the plant site on Stateline Road. The bid also included lift cranes and other manufacturing equipment used in the extrusion process.

"I bought the building for an investment," Matheson told the STAR on Tuesday.

Auction company officials who held the event said the bid price ranked relatively low given the value of real property and facilities located on the site. A company representative said five bidders were on hand for the auction.

"It is up to the company to accept or reject that bid," said Martin Higgenbotham, president of Higgenbotham Auctioneers of Lakeland, Fla., which conducted the auction.

Auctioneer Ken Gravitt opened the call for bids at one million dollars, but the opening bid came in at only $500,000. Higgenbotham stopped the auction on two occasions in an attempt to encourage higher bids.

"We are not renting the building today -- we are gong to sell it today," Higgenbotham told auction attendees in an effort to raise the bid price. "If you are going to make any money in the real estate market you've got to buy something."

Potential bidders may have been deterred by a sudden albeit brief snowstorm that hit the Tri-Cities shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, less than one hour before the auction was held.

The Alcoa property including the facilities was appraised at over $5.3 million for the 2005 tax year, according to tax card information from the county assessor of property's office. Estimating the real property value and that of the buildings, Higgenbotham representatives estimated buying and building the exact same facility could cost approximately $15 million or more by today's pricing standards.

The property has been home to several manufacturing companies since 1970. The JARL manufacturing company opened the facility in 1969 and was followed in succession by the Alcan, Cressona, and Alumax companies. Alcoa purchased the facility in 1998 as part of the company's acquisition of Alumax.

Matheson has owned Matheson Machine Products company located in the Watauga Industrial Park for 30 years. He had done maintenance work at the plant for various companies since the facility began operating in the late 1960s. Although Matheson said he had no concrete plans about the site's future development, he indicated that the facility might be turned into a manufacturing operation by a third party in the future.

"I am very familiar with the building," he said.

Higgenbotham said bids varied depending on the real estate sector's mantra of "location, location, location," but added that potential bidders often cried into the telephone talking to him when they learned of how little some bidders gave to acquire properties.

"I've got a million phone calls saying 'Well, if I'd known it had gone for that I would have bought it,'" he said.

An Alcoa representative attended the auction but declined to comment about the auction or the company. Higgenbotham said that if the company rejected the bid, the company would talk with other bidders regarding the property's future. He said another public auction of the property would not be held by his company.

A subsidiary of Alcoa Inc., Alcoa Extrusions owned the plant that had produced aluminum extrusion materials used in the automotive construction, distribution and industrial products markets. Alcoa closed the facility in June 2002 leaving the more than 200 employees out of work. The property has essentially been vacant since the closure although the company had maintained structural soundness of the buildings.

The plant complex totals 251,111 square feet. One building includes Alcoa's former office and operations building. A second building houses the plant's casting facility. The plant also includes 250 paved parking spaces and possible railroad siding access. The property is located within Elizabethton city limits and is presently zoned M-2 for manufacturing use.

The winning bidder was required to deposit 10 percent of the winning bid amount on Tuesday with the balance of bid due at closing. The bid and purchase must close in 45 days if the bid price is accepted by Alcoa. The company reserved the right to lease the property from the winning bidder for six months from the date of closure to remove personal property and equipment not sold at the auction.

Alcoa division gets China Boeing deal

Pittsburgh Business Times, PA 02-Mar-2005

A unit of Alcoa Inc. has been awarded a multiyear contract to provide parts for the Boeing 737, the Pittsburgh aluminum giant said Wednesday.

Under the deal with Chinese aircraft manufacturer Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, which runs from 2005-09, Alcoa Engineered Products, which makes extruded aluminum products for aerospace, automotive, building, industrial and commercial applications, will make aluminum extrusions for the horizontal stabilizer tail section assembly of the Boeing 737.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) also has a deal through 2007 to provide Xian Aircraft of China with extrusions for the vertical tail assembly of the 737, the company said.

Some of the work will be done at Alcoa's Lafayette, Ind., plant.

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.

Aluworks records unimpressive performance but expects a turn ...

GhanaWeb, Ghana 02-Mar-2005

Accra, March. 2, GNA - Aluworks Ghana Limited (ALW) on Wednesday said it intended to pay a dividend of 450 cedis per share to its equity holders despite an unimpressive performance registered for the year ended 2004. When the company appeared at the 'Facts Behind the Figures' programme organised by the Ghana Stock Exchange, Mr Venkataramana Kondagunta, Managing Director, said profit after tax increased by only five per cent but the board had proposed payment of an additional 300 cedis per share to an interim dividend of 150 cedis per share paid in December.

The decision to pay the additional dividend would be taken at the next annual general meeting and the 450 cedis if accepted would make the figure higher by 12.5 per cent over that of 2003. Profit after tax stood at 19.3 billion cedis in 2004 as against 18.4 billion cedis in the previous year but the company is optimistic that it would register 69 billion cedis in profit after tax for the current financial year. It also expects to achieve this feat by cutting cost by 25 per cent and increasing exports by 40 per cent.

"The company expects to see next year's operations registering better results since the benefits of strategies such as cost cutting exercise and global sourcing of spares and consumables already put in place will reduce our operating cost and thereby enable us mitigate the effects of the rising aluminium prices on the world market," Mr Kondagunta added.

Exports for 2004 increased by 29 per cent from 14.8 million cedis to 19.1 million cedis but profit before tax remained flat at 25.4 billion cedis. Mr Kondagunta explained that Aluworks' profit before tax increased by four per cent to 26.4 billion cedis but a staff rationalisation exercise in 2004 resulted in the out-sourcing of some non-core activities at a cost of 1.1 billion cedis. Another major challenge that led to the unimpressive performance was the soaring of the Aluminium prices on the world market from a three-month price of 1,557 dollars per ton to a new high of 1,972 dollars per ton.

Aluminium is the company's raw material and it is imported as a semi-finished product. It gained a 26.7 per cent price appreciation from the beginning of 2004. Mr Kondagunta said turnover increased by 21 per cent from 377.2 billion cedis to 458 billion cedis while sales volume went up by 10 per cent from 17,656 metric tonnes to 19,497 metric tonnes. Export volumes went up by 21 per cent from 6,408 metric tonnes to 7,754 metric tonnes. Mr Kondagunta said the general performance at the export level was very encouraging because the company developed new markets in Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso as a result of which it registered the highest export sales since the inception of the plant.

Aluworks is also expectant that Valco's reopening would impact positively on the company by reducing cost of metal, fuel and increases and other production cost. Managers of Aluworks say they also intend to pursue the colour coating line and foil rolling mills projects for which it had already re-organised itself for implementation.

Russian Aluminium rebuffed on financial guarantees

Mineweb, South Africa '03-MAR-05 09:00' GMT © Mineweb 1997-2004

By: John Helmer

MOSCOW (Mineweb.com) -- Russian Aluminium (Rusal), the secretive metals producer controlled by Moscow oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was rebuffed this week in the former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, after financial guarantees from Rusal were termed unsatisfactory for its takeover of Montenegro's sole aluminium producer, the Podgorica Aluminium Combine (KAP).

With output capacity of 120,000 tons of aluminium a year, KAP is the dominant industrial enterprise of the small republic in the Balkans. Last year's sales totaled $192 million, and sales abroad comprised 80% of Montenegro's exports. But during the civil wars and economic disruption that have wracked the old Yugoslav federation, KAP has run up sizeable debts that now exceed $110 million.

A state shareholding of 64.5 percent in the plant has been up for sale since last August. Despite press reports of bidding interest from one major creditor, the Swiss metal trader Glencore, only Rusal had submitted an offer by the tender deadline in January. "We expect this to be a high-quality offer since Rusal is an aluminium giant," Branko Vujovic of the Montenegrin foreign investments commission was reported as saying at the time.

Rusal, one of the top-3 aluminium producers in the world, reports that booming metal prices last year pushed its revenues up 20% to $5.4 billion. The company, which is closely held by Deripaska, Roman Abramovich, and others who prefer to keep their identities and stakes secret, does not disclose detailed financial data. It acknowledges that roughly 80% of sales are earned from exports.

However, in order to take advantage of favourable Russian tax treatment, Rusal's smelters do not export their products. Instead, they produce metal on tolling contracts for offshore companies. Rusal refuses to say if it owns these offshore companies.

Claimants in the courts of the US, Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) have alleged that Deripaska has created a myriad of trading companies, some identically named to companies he does not own, but which he has registered in different locations around the world. According to the court claims, these companies have violated metal delivery and other contracts.

In the latest litigation, reported this week by Adrian Gatton in the Independent on Sunday, Deripaska has been accused by David and Simon Reuben of "wrongfully repudiat[ing]" an agreement with Trans-World, the Reuben group, to operate a metal trading partnership through an Irish-registered aluminium company Tradalco. Tradalco in turn operated the tolling companies which moved raw materials into the Russian smelters, and took aluminium out of Russia for sale. Mirror companies registered in Bahamas were allegedly used to divert trading proceeds from companies registered for Tradalco in BVI. The Reuben claim refers to the period of 1995 to 1998. Lawyers say that similar claims have been rejected by American and Swiss courts for lack of jurisdiction, and on account of the statute of limitations.

Suspicion that KAP might be at risk from such schemes appears to have weighed in the thinking of Montenegrin officials.

Industry press reports indicate that Rusal proposed a takeover of the KAP plant through Salomon Enterprises, a company registered in Cyprus. Rusal offered to pay Euro48.5 million, with a pledge to invest a further Euro55 million. Rusal was also expected to bid for a 31% state stake in the bauxite mine that supplies KAP.

However, according to a new statement by KAP's President Mihailo Banjevic, issued to Mineweb: "Rusal did not achieve an agreement with the Tender Committee for privatization of KAP of the Government of the Republic of Montenegro in terms of their positions regarding Rusal's guarantees for the company Salamon Enterprises that Rusal formed in order to manage KAP. Rusal gave some proposals which the Tender Committee did not agree with. Rusal had objections to an electricity price for a 5-year period, and they also made some proposals on the environmental issue. But the Montenegrin Government insisted that they should define these proposals more closely. However, the electricity price and the environmental issue were not discussed in detail, because the initial formal legal problem with guarantees was not overcome". At its Moscow headquarters Rusal said it is "not ready" to respond to questions regarding Banjevic's statement, ownership of Salamon Enterprises, and the rejection of its bid by the Montenegrin government.

Inside the company, Rusal has been suffering recentlly from self-doubt and disagreement among executives over what to disclose, and how. Rusal's long-time spokesmen, Fred Harrison and Yevgenia Harrison, appear to have had their contracts terminated recently. They had made attempts to pressure international reporting of the company's affairs. The senior executive in charge of PR, Dmitri Shulga, who was appointed last June, resigned after a few months; Dmitri Ivanov was named in his place in December. Rusal paid a sponsorship fee to a US-based industry publication for an event in January as part of a campaign to improve its international image.

Sources in Australia confirm that the federal government in Canberra, as well as the Queensland government, have a more sanguine view than the Montenegrins. Last month they approved Rusal's $461 million bid to acquire a 20-percent stake in Queensland Alumina Ltd., as well the former owner's debts and raw material inventories. Rusal's stake, previously owned by the bankrupt US firm Kaiser, does not grant management control of the plant. Rio Tinto subsidiary Comalco and Canada's Alcan control the majority shareholding.

Rusal's pursuit of bauxite and alumina to feed its Russian smelters, as well as to create a network of offshore aluminium plants, has also taken the company to Guinea, Nigeria, the two Congo republics, Venezuela, Jamaica, and India.

Inside Russia, Rusal will not disclose port and shipping arrangements for its aluminium, or even the markets to which they ship their metal. Russian shipping companies have been told that if they reveal details of their aluminium cargoes, they face the risk that Rusal will cancel their contracts.

However, port and transportation sources have told Mineweb that bulk and containerized shipment of aluminium is increasingly being diverted away from St.Petersburg to Murmansk, in Russia's far north, as well as southwards to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. For 2004 as a whole, Rusal reports smelter output grew 3.1% to 2.7 million tons.

However, sources at Murmansk confirm that their shipment volumes jumped 12 percent for the year. It is believed St.Petersburg saw an even larger decrease. Volumes shipped out of Novorossiysk picked up by about 7%. Russian aluminium exported to the US, Japan, Taiwan, China, and South Korea is mostly shipped through Vanino, on the Sea of Okhotsk. Sources there say there the rise in shipment levels is modest, and running even with production growth.

The federal customs authority has delayed issuing data for January, on account of the unusually long Christmas-New Year holiday in Russia this year. January figures are to be combined with those for February. A year ago, the official customs figures revealed an extraordinary 69.4% jump in Russian aluminium export volumes for the month of January, compared to January 2003; the total was 411,700 tons. Since this volume far exceeded the growth of production, and since Rusal denies that it had any stockpile of aluminium to empty, no-one in the industry, neither in Russia nor abroad, claims to know what exactly happened -- or whether it has been repeated this year.

Energy secretary: We stand by our plans on BPA

Katu.com, OR March 3, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration isn't backing off a proposal to raise the cost of electricity for customers of the Bonneville Power Administration and other federal power suppliers.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told a Senate committee today the administration is going forward with its plan.

He says it would remove unfair government subsidies and allow power suppliers to operate in a more businesslike manner.

Northwest senators said yesterday they could prevent the market rate proposal from becoming part of the budget.

Ending the cost-based pricing would raise the cost of power by about 20 percent in the Northwest.

The increase would likely be passed along to consumers. It would also hurt industries such as aluminum smelting that depend on cheap power.

Bonneville, based in Portland, supplies nearly half the electricity in the Northwest, most of it from federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Senators block Bush plan to boost Northwest power rates

Seattle Times 03-Mar-2005

By Christopher Schwarzen , Times Snohomish County Bureau

Northwest senators say they've blocked a White House proposal to sell federally produced electricity at market rates — a plan they say could have cost the region $1.3 billion and dealt a severe economic blow.

President Bush announced last month that he wanted four federal utilities, including the Bonneville Power Administration, to sell electricity at market-based rates, rather than at cost as they do now.

The plan would have raised by 20 percent per year the rates utilities such as Seattle City Light and the Snohomish County Public Utility District pay for power.

But after heavy bipartisan pressure against the proposal, senators from Idaho and Oregon said yesterday they have assurances that the proposal won't land in any Senate budget bill.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., the Budget Committee chairman, made the announcement yesterday, according to Sens. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

"There was very heavy opposition to the proposal," said Chris Matthews, a Smith spokesman. "Even the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee said he would not support the proposal."

He referred to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

Craig's office said the senators talked yesterday and Gregg confirmed his decision.

"We're happy to have [Gregg] on our side, declaring the issue dead in the Senate," said Dan Whiting, a Craig spokesman. "We tried to see if House members would announce something similar, but they don't seem ready yet."

White House spokesman Allen Abney said last night that the Bush administration was aware of the Senate's move but stood by the proposal.

"Our belief is that this is a sound and reasonable policy," Abney said. "We'll work on through this with Congress."

But Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., reiterated the effects such a plan would have on the region.

"The Bush rate hike would have a devastating impact on our economy and jobs," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy Committee. "I will not rest until the administration's plan is dead and gone."

Bonneville, which supplies nearly half of the Northwest's electricity, sells power at cost: about $32 a megawatt-hour as opposed to the market-based price of $45 that energy retailers charge.

Under the president's budget plan, prices would have gone up 20 percent a year for three years for local utilities such as Seattle City Light and the Snohomish County PUD.

They likely would have passed on the increase to residential and business customers.

The extra money Bonneville and the three other agencies made would have gone directly to the U.S. Treasury to pay down the federal deficit, projected at slightly more than $400 billion this year.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council reported earlier this week that such a plan could result in the loss of more than 13,000 jobs in the region, particularly in energy-intensive industries.

Those industries, including aluminum manufacturers, are still recovering from economic losses from the West Coast energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.

Residential customers also are languishing under high power rates that only recently have been controlled by local utilities' belt-tightening.

Bonneville officials, who took no position on the proposal, said they were unaware of Gregg's announcement yesterday.

Officials at the Snohomish County PUD, which buys 80 percent of its electricity from the federal utility, said they appreciated the Northwest congressional delegation's support in fighting the plan.

"Clearly, this plan would create a lot of additional hardship in the region for businesses and residents — particularly those already struggling with higher rates," PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.

Christopher Schwarzen: 425-783-0577 or cschwarzen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Gas project brings LNG to Mozambique capital

Reuters South Africa, South Africa Thu March 3, 2005 6:01 PM GMT+02:00

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Natural gas supplies will be shipped to Mozambique's main industrial area around Maputo for the first time this month following completion of a pipeline extension project, an industry official said on Thursday.

Matola Gas Company (MGC) executive director Bruno Morgado said the firm would start commercial operation on March 18, supplying 1.1 million of gigajoules of gas per year to anchor client Mozal, the aluminium smelter owned by miner BHP Billiton which now represents almost 90 per cent of the natural gas market in Mozambique.

Nine other industrial clients have been identified in Maputo province, including a power station project and a retail fuel service for automobiles powered by natural gas, he said.

MGC last month finished construction of a 79 km pipeline from the main pipeline between Mozambique and South Africa and developed an additional 22-km distribution network for local costumers.

The project feeds off the 865-km pipeline from the natural gas fields of Pande and Temane in the southern Inhambane region of Mozambique to Secunda, South Africa.

The $1.2 billion pipeline project, led by South African petrochemicals firm Sasol, aims to send South Africa 120 million gigajoules of natural gas per year and includes a reserve of up to 25 million gigajoules for Mozambique's use.

"The (local) companies are going to save between 30 to 40 per cent of they cost structure with energy by using natural gas. The benefits are beyond the saving in energy," he added.

Created in 2002, MGC is led by South African energy company Gigajoule with 49.6 per cent of the shares and includes a consortium of Mozambican firms and businessman with 25.2 per cent. Mozambique's state hydrocarbons company ENH has the balance of the shares.

Russian aluminium tycoon retains his Ukrainian assets

Gateway 2 Russia, Russia 03 March 2005 13:00

Another company is to be deprivatized in Ukraine. The Ukrrudprom [Dnipropetrovsk ore company] assets, sold last year, will return to the state, and the investors will get their money back.

The [Ukrainian] Cabinet of Ministers insists that the law on company privatization should be reviewed, the press service of Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh has said.

Last year the Ukrainian State Property Fund sold nine out of 10 enterprises run by the holding company. The Supreme Council approved the deal.

But not all owners of Ukrainian mining enterprises are as unlucky as Ukrrudprom boss Rinat Akhmetov. For example, the Mykolayiv Alumina Plant remains in the possession of [Russian aluminium tycoon] Oleg Deripaska. According to expert evaluation, the investor is fulfilling his obligations and no violations of the law were committed during privatization of the plant.

Another item of property belonging Deripaska in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Aluminium company, has also escaped the deprivatization wave.

Source: RBK TV, Moscow

Rusal Will Pour Aluminum for Ukraine if the government allows it

Kommersant, Russia 04-Mar-2005

Aleksandr Livshits, the director of international and special projects at Russian Aluminum (Rusal), announced yesterday that Rusal was prepared to build a new aluminum smelter in Ukraine with a production capacity of nearly 200 000 metric tons per year. A lack of political will on the part of the Ukrainian government is hampering implementation of these plans. In order to make the construction worthwhile, it needs to abolish the legislative ban on electricity supplies from Russia. Russian companies doing business in Ukraine will probably start vying with each other to offer the country's leaders lucrative investment projects. In this way, they will protect their assets from accusations of illegal privatization carried out during the years of Leonid Kuchma's presidency.

Livshits held talks yesterday with Anatoly Kinakh, the first deputy prime minister of the Ukrainian government. The subject was investments by the aluminum holding in Ukraine. We remind our readers that Rusal currently owns 30 percent of the Nikolaev Alumina Plant (NGZ), which supplies raw materials to the company's Russian plants and the Tajik Aluminum Smelter [TadAZ; Kommersant reported earlier on Rusal's plans to participate in its privatization in 2007]. When it bought into NGZ in 2000, Rusal committed to building a new aluminum smelter near Kharkov with a capacity of nearly 100 000 metric tons per year.

The company later announced that, under existing electricity rates, building a new aluminum smelter in Ukraine was unprofitable. Instead of building a new plant, the government of Viktor Yanukovich allowed AO Aluminum of Ukraine [a Rusal subsidiary managed by NGZ] to increase NGZ's capacity from 1.3 million to 1.6 million metric tons of alumina per year and invest nearly $80 million in modernizing it by 2009. However, after Viktor Yushchenko came to power, a rejection of the plan for the new plant could have cost Rusal NGZ. In February, the Ukrainian government formed a working group to review the results of privatization at companies on a list that included Rusal's Ukrainian assets, as well as a number of other assets belonging to Russian companies, e.g., Zaporozhsky Aluminum Smelter (ZAO AvtoBAZ-Invest).

On March 2, Kinakh announced that the cabinet had approved the decision of the previous cabinet on the investment obligations of NGZ's Russian owners. Inna Kozhemiako, Kinakh's press secretary, explained to Kommersant that the corresponding decision was made at a meeting of the working group at the beginning of the week.

Yesterday Livshits called the Ukrainian government's position on NGZ "a positive signal for investors". He announced that Rusal was considering plans to build a new aluminum smelter in Ukraine with a planned capacity of up to 200 000 metric tons. According to preliminary calculations, the project will cost $500 million. The construction site has still not been determined, but it is not inconceivable that Rusal will abandon the idea of building the plant near Kharkov if the investment conditions at any other site in Ukraine prove to be more attractive. Livshits stressed that investments in the alumina plant in the last five years ($120 million) have already increased production by one and a half times. There are plans to invest about another $100 million in NGZ in the near future.

However, a final decision on investments in Ukraine rests on the problem of supplying electricity (which comprises up to 30 percent of aluminum production costs). "We need rates of no more than one cent per kWh and a contract for direct delivery of electricity for 15 years," Livshits told Kommersant, asserting that under those conditions, the project would pay for itself in five to seven years. It is possible to reduce the price of electricity by buying it in Russia, but deliveries of Russian electricity to Ukraine are currently prohibited by law. "If Ukraine wants an aluminum smelter, it will have to change the legislation. It's a question of political will," Livshits told Kommersant.

There is one more way to reduce energy costs, and that is for the holding to buy a package of shares in a Ukrainian electric power plant. However, they are all state-owned at present, and as Livshits confirmed, this option is still not being discussed.

by Yury Svirko, Kiev; Maria Molina

Hydro Aluminum Selects pVelocity Software Pilot Installation

Business Wire (press release), CA March 04, 2005

TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 4, 2005--pVelocity Inc., a leading developer of software for profit optimization, today announced that the Belton, South Carolina operation of Hydro Aluminum has signed a contract for the pVelocity suite of products. Terms were not disclosed. The 165,000 square foot Belton operation offers advanced extrusion, fabrication, and finishing services for the building & construction and transportation industries.

pVelocity Inc. will provide their EnterprisePV and ScenarioPV software modules, plus corresponding professional services. By deploying pVelocity, Hydro Aluminum will enable their Belton finance, sales and operations functions to optimize their portfolio of customers and products, and therefore maximize their profit and return on plant assets.

According to pVelocity CEO Paula Hucko, "We are very excited to be doing business with such a prestigious company. The plant management team at Belton has a clear goal to optimize their portfolio through analyzing customers by profitability, by volume, by capacity utilization, and by product mix. We look forward to a long relationship with the Belton operation, and with other Hydro Aluminum plants in the future."

The pVelocity software will enable Hydro Aluminum to make all cost components - including material, labor, freight, fabrication and paint - visible by customer, by press and by die. The software will also help them by reflecting the value-add approach to providing aluminum solutions and not just extruded mill finish product. Value added services include engineering assistance for product design, fabrication capabilities including rotary bending, cut-to-length miter cuts, drilling, milling, punching, fill & de-bridge, as well as light assembly and painting.

By providing all functions in their organization with a time-based view of reality, the Belton operation will have the capability to analyze all costs, productivity and profitability for each product of each customer; to analyze productivity and profitability of each press; and to analyze the profitability of value added services by customer and by product. To manage the future, pVelocity allows users to create scenarios that manipulate cost, selling price and production cycle time, to enrich product mix, improve pricing practices and effectively manage negative margin production.

Modernization Of Armenian Foil Plant Ahead Of Schedule

Armenia Diaspora, Armenia March 04, 2005

Yerevan, March 04, Armenpress: Georgy Avetikian, the chief manager of RusAl-ArmenAl foil mill facility, told Armenpress the modernization of the biggest manufacturer of a wide range of aluminum foil in the region, started in October 2004 is continuing ahead of schedule. He said the modernization is aimed both at improving the quality of its foil products and boosting the plant's profitability -in helping the mill to become one of the world leading foil producers.

German engineering firm Achenbach was selected to execute the program, scheduled for completion in 18 months at an investment cost of US $70 million, of which $20 million are the share of RusAl, which owns 100 percent shares of the mill.

The modernization program, which will also provide for a major upgrade in foil rolling equipment and also the establishment of a full production cycle, will lift the plant capacity by 25,000 tons of foil per year, including 18,000 tons of highly profitable thin foil in 6-9 micron gauge-increasing ArmenAl's profitability by 150%. On completion of the project, RusAl-ArmenAl's market share of thin foil production will reach 2.5% by 2008.

Avetikian said some 30-35 percent of $70 million (around $20) will be paid as wages to Armenian workers and specialists and part of that money will be used to buy some equipment in Armenia.

The modernization program, apart from a full-scale upgrade in rolling equipment, includes the installation of new casting machines and direct rolling mill, as well as an upgrade of hot rolling mills, to create a full cycle of production. As part of the modernization program the main foil rolling equipment will be refitted with control and automatic management systems. High- and low-pressure ancillary system hydraulics will also be upgraded.

Elaboration of the program will raise the quality and profitability of RusAl-ArmenAl products and enable the manufacturing of new product ranges, as well as securing a continuous supply of raw materials by switching from coil to foil ingot, and set up a recycling loop for foil scrap.

INDONESIA'S INALUM HOPES TO MAINTAIN ALUMINUM INGOT OUTPUT

Moneyplans.net 3/6/2005 4:22:00 PM

JAKARTA, March 3 Asia Pulse - PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), based in North Sumatra, said it hopes to at least achieve last year's output of aluminum ingots.

Last year, the company, which is a joint venture between the government and a number of Japanese companies, produced 235,000 tons of aluminum ingots, exceeding its production capacity of 225,000 tons, a company official S.S. Sijabat said on Wednesday.

Sijabat said the price of aluminum ingots is good with growing demand in international market.

Last year, the price of the commodity averaged US$1,800 per ton and this year it is predicted to rise to US$2,000, he said.

The company has succeeded in improving its electric power systems to increase power supply that will help boost its production, he said.

Alcoa CEO sees opportunity in global market change

Reuters India, India Mon Mar 7, 2005 07:51 PM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Alcoa Inc. is poised to take advantage of dramatic world economic growth not seen in 50 years, much of it in Brazil, Russia, India and China, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Alain Belda said on Monday.

China, for example, is the largest market for refrigerators and air conditioners, the third largest for packaged products and the fifth for autos, he said in a speech to the Aluminum Association spring meeting in Chicago.

Alcoa is in negotiations in China about installing a hot mill and about power generation for an operation in southern China, Belda said.

"I think China will be permanently short of power," Belda said. "Anybody who is growing at 8 percent to 9 percent is growing energy consumption at 16 percent to 18 percent. It is the same kind of challenge of having power that you have in the U.S. and Western Europe."

Growth in the so-called "BRIC" countries -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- initially will be dominated by a voracious appetite for resources to build infrastructure as they create the equivalent of another Western economy over the next decade, Belda said.

"We are in the midst of market transformation and growth similar to the one we experienced in the 1950s, when the world was reconstructing Europe and there was a great amount of urbanization in the U.S., Europe and some parts of Latin America," Belda said.

Anticipating an influx of one billion more people to cities by 2015, Belda said Alcoa sees opportunities for infrastructure products such as rail cars, building and construction materials, signs, packaging products, small planes and boats, primary metals, extrusions, and common alloy products.

"The good news is that obviously there is a great demand out there for our products," Belda said. "The bad news is that rather than it happening in our backyard, it is happening far away."

Belda also predicted that world trade as a percentage of GDP will grow to 40 percent from 25 percent, and having the ability to leverage positions in local markets will therefore be key to making the most of those opportunities.

Citing U.S. trade and budget deficits, he said Alcoa is more concerned about a hard landing in the U.S. economy than in China's.

With economic volatility and political risk and conflicts expected to increase, Belda said, there should be additional opportunities in the defense industry for combat vehicles, blast-proof containers, and portable power.

"Fast deployment will require lighter equipment," he said, suggesting greater need for lightweight material like aluminum.

Growth in the West is likely to be dominated by technology and niche products for an aging population, health care, leisure and services, while the emerging economies plunge into larger runs of simpler products, Belda said.

A need for increased environmental and energy awareness should create opportunities in new technologies that reduce CO2 emission, in new processes that move from molten to solid in a smaller number of steps, in more recycling and use of scrap, and in processes that reduce energy consumption, he added.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Alumina prices rise to 8-month high on demand

Financial Express, India Tuesday, March 08, 2005 at 0041 hours IST

MARCH 7: Alumina prices rose to an eight-month high as China’s aluminum industry, the world’s largest, used more of the raw material refined from bauxite. Chinese smelters in January produced 580,000 metric tonne of aluminum, up 18% from a year earlier, according to the China Nonferrous Metals Industry. Two tonne of alumina, a white powder refined from bauxite, are need to smelt one tonne of aluminum, used in products such as beverage cans and cars.

"Spot alumina remains supported at around $400 a tonne in light of strong Chinese demand," John MacKinnon and Tama Willis, analysts at Deutsche Bank AG in London, said in a report on Monday. Global aluminum production expanded in 2004 faster than alumina output, pushing prices to their highest in at least 10 years.

Aluminum smelters such as the US’s Alcoa Inc and Beijing-based Aluminum Corporation of China are expanding output to meet rising demand and capitalize on higher prices.

Minister up-beat about Aldoga future

ABC Regional Online, Australia Tuesday, 8 March 2005. 12:00

Queensland's Minister for State Development says he is confident the Aldoga aluminium smelter near Gladstone in central Queensland will eventually proceed.

Aldoga announced last year it was putting the project on hold, blaming exchange rates, alumina availability, industrial relations challenges and cost escalations.

Tony McGrady says Aldoga has already made a big investment in Gladstone.

"They're commercial decisions by Aldoga and they'll make the appropriate announcements," he said.

"But what people have to understand is that Aldoga have invested $50 million initially on the land at the development area and in more recent times they've increased that investment to take it up to in excess of $90 million.

"Companies don't spend $90 million if they're going to walk away from a project."

Alcoa will cut about 80 salaried jobs in Iowa during the next 10 days, the company said Tuesday.

NEPA News, PA 08-Mar-2005

A restructuring will reduce salaried work force by about 20 percent at Alcoa Davenport Works, which makes aerospace components and aluminum sheet and plate. Hourly work force reductions aren't anticipated, the company said. There are currently 400 salaried employees and about 1,700 hourly workers.

"We must become leaner, more nimble, and able to change faster. The pace for improving our business is at a much higher rate than ever before, and all of us at Alcoa must feel an intense sense of urgency to meet the challenges before us," said Mick Wallis, president of North American Mill Products.

Career transition services will be provided to affected employees besides any separation package they qualify for.

A hiring freeze for all employees has also been in effect since December. The last reduction at Davenport was in January 2002, when the plant reduced its employment levels by 221 employees due to weak demand for aerospace products following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On the Net: http://www.alcoa.com

Noranda and Falconbridge to Issue Press Release

Business Wire (press release), CA March 08, 2005

TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 8, 2005--Noranda Inc. (TSX:NRD)(NYSE:NRD) and Falconbridge Limited (TSX:FL) announced that each of the companies will issue a press release at 6:00 a.m. EST tomorrow, Wednesday, March 9, 2005.

Noranda Inc. is a leading copper and nickel company with investments in fully-integrated zinc and aluminum assets. The Company's primary focus is the identification and development of world-class copper and nickel mining deposits. It employs 16,000 people at its operations and offices in 18 countries and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange (NRD). The Company's website can be found at www.noranda.com.

Falconbridge Limited is a leading producer of nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum group metals. Its common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol FL. Falconbridge is owned by Noranda Inc. of Toronto (58.8%) and by other investors (41.2%). The Company's website can be found at www.falconbridge.com.

Falconbridge Limited (TSX:FL)

Noranda Inc. (TSX:NRD) (NYSE:NRD)

Contacts

Noranda Inc./Falconbridge Limited

Denis Couture

Vice-President, Investor Relations, Communications & Public

(416) 982-7020

denis.couture@toronto.norfalc.com

www.noranda.com or www.falconbridge.com

China Raises Environmental Bar for Heavy Industry

Reuters 08-Mar-2005

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is raising the environmental bar on the construction of heavily polluting factories and plants in a move that could bolster efforts to limit investment and cool the economy.

China has suffered severe environmental damage in recent decades as economic development has accelerated, but the government has since adopted a series of measures to cool the world's seventh largest economy, which grew 9.5 percent last year.

Steel, cement, aluminum, iron alloy, calcium carbide and coke-producing plants would undergo stricter environmental assessments before construction could begin, Xinhua news agency said in an overnight report.

The stricter policy also applied to projects already under way, Pan Yue, vice minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, was quoted as saying.

"Projects that have been completed and put into operation illegally must upgrade their facilities in line with environmental protection regulations within a limited period of time, or they will be shut down," Pan said.

The administration in January ordered the suspension of construction at 30 major infrastructure projects, including three related to the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, because they had not undergone environmental impact assessments.

"The environment has become a new way, in addition to things like interest rates, to cool down the economy if it is too hot," the China Daily quoted administration official Hu Tao as saying at the time.

The environmental watchdog halted construction of 139 projects involving billions of dollars in 2004, Xinhua said.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

BHP Billiton digs deep with $9.2b bid for WMC

Wodonga Border Mail, Australia Wed, Mar 09, 2005

THE worlds biggest miner, BHP Billiton, is set to get even bigger, last night making a|$9.2 billion bid for WMC Resources, and pushing Xstrata out of the market.

The bid tops Xstratas hostile offer by $1 billion.

The Zug-based mining group said it would not be increasing its unconditional offer due to close on March 24.

The WMC acquisition will give BHP Billiton, already a dominant player in aluminium, iron ore, coal and copper, significant influence in the global nickel and uranium markets.

"It enables us to benefit from the current strength in the market but I think equally importantly it sets us up with the options to benefit from an extended commodity cycle," BHP Billiton chief executive Mr Chip Goodyear said.

BHP Billitons $7.85 per share cash bid, which values WMC at $9.2 billion, won the unanimous support of the WMC board, in the absence of a superior proposal.

The offer tops Xstratas $7 cash bid.

It is in the top half of the valuation range provided by an independent expert in WMCs targets statement.

It is expected to trigger a bidding war flushing out several rival bidders, such as Rio Tinto and Anglo American, who have been waiting until late in the game to show their cards.

"I think we have a full and fair offer but I dont think its time to declare victory," Mr Goodyear said.

WMC chief executive Mr Andrew Michelmore said the BHP offer supported the view of WMCs value held by the board.

The acquisition would create the worlds second-largest copper producer and the third-largest nickel producer.

WMC is already the worlds fifth-largest nickel producer and has a big uranium deposit at Olympic Dam.

Noranda Bids for Falconbridge, Minmetals Out

Reuters Canada, Canada - Wed March 9, 2005 5:02 PM GMT-05:00

By Nicole Mordant

TORONTO (Reuters) - Noranda Inc. made a C$3 billion ($2.5 billion) stock-swap bid on Wednesday for all the shares of subsidiary Falconbridge Ltd. that it doesn't already own, unveiling a merger that would create one of the world's largest base metals miners.

At the same time as the two Canadian firms announced their merger plans, China Minmetals said its September proposal to buy all of Noranda, the world's No. 3 zinc and No. 8 copper producer, was off. Noranda owns 59 percent of Falconbridge, which is the world's third largest nickel miner.

Both Noranda and Minmetals said they wanted to strike deals that would see Noranda supply metal to the state-owned trader at a time of feverish raw material demand in China.

"The (Minmetals) transaction as was contemplated is not on the cards," said David Weiner, a Minmetals' spokesman.

"We have developed a good relationship with Noranda over the months and we hope to build on that momentum and goodwill," said Weiner, who is based in Toronto.

Weiner echoed comments earlier in the day from Noranda's chief executive, Derek Pannell, on a possible "strategic relationship" with Minmetals. Pannell said that could involve the Chinese firm buying metal from the development projects of NorandaFalconbridge, which is what the new firm will be named.

FALCONBRIDGE DEAL, BRASCAN STAKE TO FALL

Noranda said it will pay 1.77 of its shares for each Falconbridge share, simplifying the ownership structure of the two companies, which investors had said for years should be merged, and were in many ways already run as one.

The offer values each share in Falconbridge at C$41.24, a 5.3 percent premium over its Tuesday close and a 15 percent premium over its 20-day average.

"We welcome the simplification of the combined ownership structure implied in the merger and look forward to cost savings or synergy gains that may result," said Merrill Lynch analysts Dan Roling and Alex Latzer in a note to clients.

Before taking Falconbridge private, Noranda will first offer to buy back 63.4 million of its own common shares in exchange for $1.25 billion of junior preferred shares.

Brascan Corp., which owns 122.6 million shares or about 41 percent of Noranda, will tender its stock to this offer. Depending how many other shareholders tender, Brascan's stake in the new firm will range from 16 to 26 percent.

The lower stake suits Brascan, which has wanted to exit the mining business to focus on its power and real estate assets.

"This is the first of a series of steps to get Brascan out of this," said Victor Lazarovici, an analyst at BMO Nesbitt Burns in New York.

But Brascan denied it had any further exit plans.

"We intend to hold onto the preferred shares ... We also have no plans for reducing the common shares," said Katherine Vyse, a spokeswoman for Brascan.

Noranda shares fell 29 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$23.01 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Falconbridge rose C$1.26, or 3.2 percent, to C$40.41.

COMMODITIES HOT

The merger of Noranda and Falconbridge comes hot on the heels of BHP Billiton's $7.4 billion bid on Tuesday for Australia's WMC Resources Ltd.

The bid from the world's No. 1 base metals miner for nickel, copper and uranium miner WMC comes as metal prices are at multiyear highs on strong demand fueled by China.

"We are ready to seize the opportunities that this (NorandaFalconbridge) transaction presents ... and move the company forward at a time when the outlook for the sector has never looked more positive," said Pannell, who will be CEO of the merged NorandaFalconbridge.

Falconbridge's CEO, Aaron Regent, will be president of the new company, which will have a market value of about C$14 billion at current share prices.

NorandaFalconbridge will have mines, smelters, refineries and exploration projects in 18 countries.

If the two companies had been combined last year, they would have produced 550,000 tonnes of refined copper, 100,000 tonnes of refined nickel and 530,000 tonnes of zinc, Pannell said. They also have a fully integrated aluminum business.

Noranda expects its bid for Falconbridge to close on April 27, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

(Additional reporting by Scott Anderson and Rachelle Younglai in Toronto)

($1$1.21 Canadian)

Vekselberg Plugs Into $1.8Bln

Moscow Times, Russia Thursday, March 10, 2005. Issue 3121. Page 7.

By Maria Ermakova, Bloomberg

Viktor Vekselberg, Russia's third-richest man, has acquired control of electricity assets worth about $1.8 billion through holding company Integrated Energy Systems, said general director Mikhail Slobodin.

The annual revenue of the company -- known in Russian as Kompleksniye Energeticheskiye Sistemy -- is about $350 million, Slobodin said Wednesday at a conference. Integrated Energy, set up two years ago to manage Vekselberg's investments in the power industry, may raise its holdings in some energy companies as the government breaks up national utility Unified Energy Systems.

"Portfolio investors make up as much as 99 percent of all investors in Russia's power industry," Slobodin said in an interview. "Whether Integrated Energy becomes a strategic investor depends on the UES reform process."

Many of Russia's richest men and largest industrial holdings have bought shares in UES and its generating units in the past two years, expecting that will help them buy generators that supply power to their businesses. The government is breaking up UES, the world's largest electricity company by capacity, to attract investment and raise competition in the industry.

Vekselberg controls SUAL Group, Russia's No. 2 aluminum maker, and is an owner of TNK-BP. Forbes magazine assessed his net worth at $5.9 billion in April 2004.

Integrated Energy plans to spend $70 million this year to buy stakes in Russia's electricity utilities and invest in its municipal business and construction projects, Slobodin said. The Moscow-based company may also sell some of its holdings in power companies as they are spun off by UES as part of its breakup.

The company is in talks with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to borrow as much as $30 million to finance energy construction projects, Slobodin said. Integrated Energy also may sell bonds next year to fund investment, he said.

Integrated Energy is concentrating its power business on four regions: the Volga region, the Urals region and eastern and western Siberia, Slobodin said.

The company has "strategic" holdings in regional utilities that serve about 6 million customers, according to Integrated Energy's web site. Russian companies usually refer to stakes of 25 percent or more as "strategic," because a stake that size allows them to block major asset sales.

Integrated Energy owns an unspecified stake in UES and has strategic holdings in Permenergo, Sverdlovenergo, Rostovenergo, Komienergo and Nizhnovenergo. The holding also has an unspecified stake in Irkutenergo, according to the web site.

UES is splitting its more than 70 subsidiaries into their functional parts -- generation, transmission and distribution -- and reassembling them into larger companies intended to attract some of the $50 billion investment UES has said is needed to upgrade aging assets.

"Today the reform is conducted not only by UES, but also by strategic investors, including us," Slobodin said. "Generating assets are best understood by investors now. Distribution assets are undervalued. In the West this business is marginally more expensive."

The value of Russia's power distribution assets, which Integrated Energy is also interested in investing in, will depend on how they will be regulated, Slobodin said.

Three Guinea ministers ousted in reshuffle

Reuters South Africa, South Africa Wed March 9, 2005 8:28 AM GMT+02:00

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Three ministers in the West African country of Guinea were ousted from major posts in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday and replaced with newcomers close to long-standing President Lansana Conte.

The ministers for security, mines and foreign affairs all lost their jobs in the reshuffle, announced on state media, which a leading opposition politician said was good news for political dialogue in the former French colony.

"The black sheep have gone," said Mamadou Ba, spokesman for a coalition of opposition parties. "Their departure gives hope for the opposition to renew dialogue with the ruling authorities and tomorrow we will go to meet them."

Outgoing Security Minister Moussa Sampil has helped keep a lid on opposition in a country where Conte, a diabetic chain smoker, has ruled firmly since seizing power in a coup 21 years ago.

Sacked Mines Minister Alpha Mady Soumah has been overseeing several projects involving foreign companies to build alumina plants in Guinea, which holds a third of the planet's known bauxite reserves. Bauxite is an ore which can be refined into alumina and then smelted into aluminium.

Sampil, who has been given a post in the Justice Ministry, was replaced by Ousmane Camara, a deputy and member of Conte's ruling party.

Ahmed Tidiane Souare, a senior official in the Finance Ministry, took Soumah's job while Foreign Affairs Minister Mamady Conde was replaced by Fatoumata Kaba, formerly Guinea's ambassador to regional heavyweight Nigeria

New Slowing Measures for Chinese Aluminum

Australasian Investment review (subscription), Australia 09-Mar-2005

http://www.aireview.com/index.php?actview&catid3&id1511

Guinean President Fires Key Ministers By Gabi Menezes

Voice of America 10 March 2005

Abidjan Lansana Conte

Guinean President Lansana Conte has fired three key ministers in another cabinet reorganization. They include hard-line Security Minister Moussa Sampil and Minister of Mines Alpha Mady Soumah.

No official reason was given for the dismissal of the ministers of mines, security, and foreign affairs late Tuesday. But security analyst Richard Reeve says the move points to instability in the country.

"President Conte's health is very poor, obviously has been for the last few years, so clearly it is in his interests particularly in the people around him, not to have anyone within his circle who is seen to be too powerful and a potential successor to him," he said.

Human rights and opposition groups have long called for the ouster of the now former minister of security Moussa Sampil. The ex-minister ordered thousands of detentions after an alleged attempt to kill the president. He has been given a post in the justice ministry. This is the second time he has been sacked from the post of security minister.

A political expert on Guinea, Chris Melville, believes the move is an attempt to bolster the reformist prime minister and to improve Guinea's image in the eyes of donor countries.

"The dismissal of Sampil and the promotion of Ahmed Tidiane Souare as the new mines minister who is a key confidant of the prime minister is all part of a broader strategy to warn some of the hard liners within the regime that they do not have a free reign within the administration and also to act as a symbol - a sign to the European Union that President Conte is serious about reform," he said.

The former minister of mines, Alpha Mady Soumah, was in the process of negotiating a project for foreign companies to build an aluminum processing plant. Although Guinea holds the world's third-largest bauxite reserves, it does not have the means to process the raw material to make aluminum.

An analyst for the International Crisis Group, Mike McGovern, believes that the removal of Mr. Soumah who was expected to retire soon, will not effect any deal on a aluminum plant.

"It is a huge commitment of billions of dollars, in fact, to build this plant and a lot is going to depend on the political situation in Guinea over the next year or two as to whether the whole project goes forward," he said.

The foreign affairs minister Mamady Conde was replaced by Kaba Mahawa Sidibe who had been serving as Guinea's ambassador to Nigeria.

Mr. Conte, a former army colonel, has ruled the country for 21 years after taking power in a coup.

Groupe Laperriere unit wins $13M in mining industry contracts

CJAD, Canada 17:31 on March 10, 2005, EST.

MONTREAL (CP) - A unit of Groupe Laperriere & Verreault Inc. has won $13 million in orders to supply equipment for major ore processing projects in Brazil and Australia.

The Montreal industrial equipment supplier said Thursday its Dorr-Oliver Eimco unit will provide process equipment to a large Brazilian iron ore producer which is expanding capacity to meet growing global demand, especially from China.

The division will also supply specialized equipment to an alumina refinery in Australia. Alumina is a powdered mineral used to make light-weight aluminum metal.

"These new contracts, which add to the other large-scale contracts we have been awarded in recent months in several parts of the world, confirm GL&V's international status as a leading supplier of equipment for the metal and ore processing industry, which is currently experiencing strong growth." said Richard Verreault, Groupe Laperrier's chief operating officer.

Groupe Laperriere (TSX:GLV.SV.A) is a world leader in liquid/solid separation technologies used in a large number of industrial, municipal and environmental processes. The company, which employs about 1,400 people, also makes equipment for the pulp and paper sector.

In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday, Groupe Laperriere shares closed up 45 cents to $27.85.

VALCO to resume operations in May

GhanaWeb, Ghana 11-Mar-2005

Preparatory works have begun on the VALCO smelter to enable its new owners to re-start the plant in the first week of May, this year.

A seven-member team of engineers from ALCOA is in the country to work with the technical personnel from VALCO towards the revival of the smelter, which has remained dormant for a few years now.

Last month, Ghana and ALCOA, the world’s biggest aluminium company, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a multi-million cedi integrated aluminium industry, in line with the vision of the first president of the country, Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Dr Mensa said it was not true that with the signing of the MOU between the Government of Ghana and ALCOA, VALCO was phasing out and explained that what had happened was that VALCO had now formed a new partnership with ALCOA instead of its original partners of Reynolds.

The resident director of VALCO said in order to begin the integrated project by 2007, ALCOA had another team working on the bauxite development programme in addition to efforts to re-start the smelter.

On the benefits of the project to the Ghanaian economy, he wondered whether the skeptics had calculated carefully what Ghana stood to gain from an investment of about $2 billion over the next three years.

Global Alumina Releases Fourth Quarter and 2004 Year-End Results

PR Newswire (press release) 11-Mar-2005

TORONTO, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Global Alumina Products Corporation ("Global Alumina") (TSX: GPC.U), a company that proposes to produce alumina for sale to the global aluminum industry, announced today that the Company's Board of Directors has approved its financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and year-ended December 31, 2004. The text of the annual unaudited financial statements and management's discussion and analysis can be viewed or printed from the Company's SEDAR reference page at http://www.sedar.com. All dollar amounts are in U.S. dollars.

2004 Highlights:

-- Significant corporate highlights include:

* Listing on the Toronto Venture Exchange on June 15, 2004 and subsequently graduating to the Toronto Stock Exchange on February 16, 2005

* Signing a comprehensive investment and concession agreement with the government of the Republic of Guinea

* Raising $80 million through two private placements

* Substantially completing the proposed alumina refinery's environmental studies and basic engineering

* Holding a groundbreaking ceremony, in conjunction with the government of the Republic of Guinea, to celebrate the commencement of ground clearing and land reclamation efforts associated with the development of Global Alumina's port facilities

* Acquiring Aluminpro Ltd., a Montreal-based aluminium industry consulting firm with collectively over 750 years of industry operating experience

-- Significant financial highlights include:

* Cash and cash equivalents of $51.6 million at December 31, 2004

* Loss for the year-ended December 31, 2004 of $17.1 million ($0.18 per share)

* Engineering and professional fees for the year-ended December 31, 2004 were $14.7 million (83% of total expenses)

"We are proud of our 2004 accomplishments and the momentum we have built and are energized by the opportunities before us. We are confident that we have the management team, financial resources and third-party technical, commercial and financial advisors necessary to achieve our goal of building a 2.8 million tonnes per annum alumina refinery in the Republic of Guinea and generating significant shareholder value," stated Bruce Wrobel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Global Alumina.

Global Alumina's 2004 Annual General Meeting will be held at 9:30 am (Eastern Time) on Thursday, April 28, 2005 in the Gallery at the TSX Broadcast & Conference Centre in downtown Toronto.

Web Site: http://www.globalalumina.com http://www.sedar.com

US$1.4 billion to be invested in Iran's largest aluminum factory

Mena Report, UK 13-03-2005 , 13:38 GMT

Some US$1.4 billion will be invested in the construction of Iran's largest aluminum factory in the western city of Nahavand, Hamedan province, Iran's Mining House announced on Sunday.

According to the English-language paper Iran Daily, the private sector will undertake investments in this project, which, once completed, will greatly increase Iran's aluminum production capacity. It further noted that the huge water reserves in the western city as well as easy access to raw materials prompted private enterprises to select Nahavand as the site of the factory.

The investment will be in the forms of buyback and BOT (build, operate, transfer), adding that once Bank Melli Iran approves the project, the implementation of the project will begin in April.

Experts assess that the 680,000-ton aluminum production target stipulated in the fourth five-year development plan (March 2005-2010) could be met easily given that several giant aluminum production units are up for privatization in the coming years.

© 2005 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

Stimir Completes Refurbishment at Alcan Steg Installation of Stimir Collar Forming & Collar Filling Technology

Azom.com 14th March 2005

http://www.azom.com/news.asp?newsID2674

Stimir of Iceland has recently completed the refurbishment of the stub protection system at Alcan Aluminium Valais – Steg Smelter in Switzerland.

The collar mounting machine and collar filling machine at Steg have been completely rebuilt using Stimir technology to eliminate problems and deficiencies in the original designs by others.

Stímir's Collar Forming technology has been installed to ensure that the existing collar mounting machine is able to handle aluminium coil without blockages. The collar material is automatically fed, cut to length, formed into a collar around the rod stub and securely closed with a punched locking imprint.

Collar Filling technology from Stimir has also been installed; this novel sysem accurately measures and dispenses carbon paste into the alu-coil collars. The dispensing system ensures accurate and even distribution of the carbon paste, and provides a virtually dust-free operation without the spillage which has until now been a significant problem.

Together, the Stimir’s Collar Forming and Collar Filling technologies comprise an integrated Stub Protection System facilitating maximum anode shift life without unwanted anode stub erosion.

Stimir hf. is a solution provider to the primary aluminium industry, with particular focus on the Rodding Plant. All aspects of design and fabrication are undertaken at Stimir’s own facilities, ensuring total quality control and on-time delivery.

http://www.stimir.com

Comalco says carbon tax may force it out of NZ

New Zealand Herald, New Zealand 16.03.05 3.40pm

Aluminium smelter and major export earner Comalco says the government's Kyoto protocol carbon tax will drive up electricity prices which may force it out of New Zealand.

Comalco, which operates the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter near Bluff, uses about 15 per cent of New Zealand's electricity production and earns about $1 billion a year in export receipts.

At an electricity conference today in Auckland, Comalco's general manager of energy Mark Grenning said a carbon tax could raise the cost of electricity to an unacceptable level when its contract with state owned generator Meridian runs out in 2012, Radio New Zealand reported.

Comalco begins negotiations for a new contract with Meridian this year. The carbon tax is expected to come into force in 2007.

Apart from higher power prices, Comalco will also suffer under the carbon tax because the Tiwai Point smelter produces considerable greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Grenning said Comalco wants a Negotiated Greenhouse Agreement (NGA) with the government which would give it exemption from carbon taxes in return for adopting environmental best international practice.

Comalco, the 79.36 per cent owner of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters, is now wholly owned by British resource giant Rio Tinto.

Global Alumina Sees Guinea Opening To Investors

Yahoo News Wednesday March 16, 12:16 AM

By Randolph Walerius Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

CONAKRY, Guinea (Dow Jones)--Next time, Karim L. Karjian won't forget to sacrifice a cow or a goat.

Late in 2004, thousands of Guineans, including half a dozen government ministers, attended the launch of a big alumina refinery project in the port of Kamsar, in the remote northwest of the country.

With the chairman of the National Assembly and the minister of mines and geology, as well as the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors, among the guests, Karjian, co-founder and board member of Global Alumina Products Corp. (GPC.U.T), and company executives labored hard to make sure the launch went smoothly.

Everything went to plan.

The Kamsar region made the day a public holiday; singers and dancers performed to meet the arriving guests; the speeches drew cheers and applause.

But Karjian and his colleagues forgot something: to arrange to slaughter a cow or goat to mark the special occasion. As minor as the oversight was, Karjian resolved not to let it happen the next time the company took a big step forward on its $2 billion refinery.

The slaughter is symbolic of the myriad details required to get one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest non-energy projects ever off the ground in one of the continent's least-noticed countries.

Chief Executive Bruce Wrobel said he expects Global Alumina's refinery to change investors' perception of Guinea. Completion of the project could encourage others to follow with investments in - and around - the alumina business.

Home to the richest bauxite deposits in the world, Guinea is, nevertheless, one of the world's poorest countries, with little of the infrastructure needed to exploit its rich mineral resources.

Bauxite is the ore that is refined into alumina and then smelted into aluminum.

From 1973 to 2003, Guinea attracted a mere $303 million in foreign direct investment, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. That amount put Guinea 35th among the 47 sub-Saharan African countries that were ranked.

"There is a perception of significantly heightened risk," Wrobel said about the continent. "People tend to generalize Africa much more than they do Asia."

Seeing Africa as a single entity, and a risky one, investors are less willing to recognize stability even in those places where it exists, he said.

"Guinea has had quite a fantastic track record of performance," Wrobel said, referring to Guinea's steady export of bauxite for decades through a foreign-controlled joint venture. And that despite being in one of the continent's most troubled neighborhoods, bordering Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

The company is waiting for the Guinean government to officially award the bauxite rights, a move Global Alumina said could come within weeks.

Financial Obstacles

Global Alumina also faces some hurdles that have little to do with Guinea. The company needs to raise about $1.4 billion in debt, most of it expected to come from export credit agencies, and another $500 to $600 million in equity. It has raised $88 million so far.

If the company manages to complete the refinery - scheduled for 2008 - the dream of opening Guinea to further investment may not be far fetched.

"I think they're not too optimistic," said Pieter du Plessis, a project manager at the Development Bank of Southern Africa. "I think that can happen."

One non-energy project in sub-Saharan Africa similar in size to the Guinean refinery is the Mozal smelter project led by Billiton - now BHP-Billiton (BHP) - in Mozambique. The $2 billion smelter was completed in 2003.

Mozambique, having emerged from a long civil war, differs in key ways from Guinea. But like Wrobel, backers of the smelter, especially development finance agencies, wanted the project to open the doors to investment in Mozambique.

"They wanted to demonstrate an anchor investment like this will open up further investment," du Plessis said of the Mozal smelter. "That was demonstrated 100%... This is an example that can be duplicated."

Since Global Alumina first proposed its 2.8 million ton refinery, Rusal (RAL.YY), the world's No. 3 aluminum company, and Alcoa Inc. (AA) and Alcan Inc. (AL), Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, have also proposed refineries in Guinea.

Rusal is looking at a 2.4 million ton refinery, and Alcoa and Alcan are jointly considering a 1.5 million ton plant.

In a country like Guinea, the first entrant faces the biggest challenge. Global Alumina plans to build its refinery between Boke and Sangaredi, in an area not served even by telephone lines or masts, never mind anything else needed for a plant.

When the French colonial government built the country's only alumina refinery in Fria in the late 1950s, the project included a power plant, a water plant, housing for workers, a hospital, and even a football stadium.

In the 45 years since, the logistics of an investment of this size haven't changed much.

Tony McCabe, Global Alumina's project director, said this endeavor will be similar. The company is looking at building a town with housing for the workers, a hospital, a club and enough water and electricity to serve the population.

"If we get the town right, we get the public image right," McCabe said.

Starting From Scratch

The trick is to build a town from scratch, but to do so without distorting the economy of the region. And then to turn it over to Guinean management in a way that has them taking ownership responsibility.

Guinea's French-built refinery in Fria, now run by Rusal, is a measure of how such big projects change their surroundings, and how that in turn affects the company itself.

The refinery provided water and power to a few thousand people 40 years ago but now serves about 60,000 people, said Dr. Ousmane Camara, who for many years worked in or directed the hospital in that project. Nobody knows for sure, because many people tap into the system without paying.

"When we have a problem, we cut energy to the town," Camara said. The refinery can't be shut down and Rusal is trying to get an agreement by which users pay for water and electricity.

Guinea's need for the services and the jobs is immense.

One government minister said only about 400,000 of the country's 8 million people work in what he called a "modern economy." And Wrobel said 600 workers showed up to apply for the 150 port-clearing jobs.

Global Alumina plans to hire about 5,000 workers for construction of the refinery and about 1,100 to operate the plant.

Du Plessis, at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, said workers at Mozal have stimulated investment thanks to their income and spending. But Mozal and its 1,100 workers also feed into a wider cycle of investment and spending.

"They need restaurants, motor vehicles, spares for motor vehicles, filling stations," said du Plessis of the workers. "The investment in (that) was lacking... There was a lot of other investment in the sugar industry, the port, tourism and hotels following that investment."

For McCabe, the Global Alumina project manager, the workers also bring an added worry: health problems.

Thousands of workers, mostly single men or men away from their families, attract prostitutes in their wake, and that brings the danger of AIDS, McCabe said. The company will include programs to reduce the spread of both HIV/AIDS and malaria, Africa's other big killer.

AIDS now runs neck and neck with malaria as the major cause of death in Fria, said Dr. Camara.

Michael Campbell, the head of BHP-Billiton's investor relations in South Africa, said malaria was a big and underestimated problem at Mozal.

He said 6,000 workers came down with malaria in the first phase of that project, 13 of whom died. A program of spraying and education and prevention reduced that to 1,000 in the second phase, with one fatality.

Campbell said the company didn't go into Mozal to "pull a country up by its boot straps," but added the project helped give government officials the expertise needed to manage such projects.

For Global Alumina, the estimated cost of the social infrastructure in Guinea, including the town, training, even some transport infrastructure, is just over $100 million, said Brian Herlihy, a company vice president.

Even if Global Alumina's experience motivates other investors to try Guinea, few will take on projects as big as an alumina refinery. But an investment of any size will encounter some of the same problems.

On the three-hour drive from Conakry to Kamsar for the December launch event, McCabe kept a close eye on the drivers and their handling of the convoy of SUVs on at-times badly potholed roads. Instilling and enforcing good safety practice comes with the project, he said.

Russky Ugol Will Excavate Fluor Calcareous for Russky Alluminy

Kommersant, Russia

mineral resource industry

As Kommersant learned, Russky Ugol bought a half of the fluor spar production in Primorie. The second half was bought by Basic Element that needs Fluor Calcareous for its Russky Aluminy plants. However, it is Russky Ugol which will manage mining-and-processing integrated works. It will provide Russky Aluminy with the raw material. The rest will be sent to China.

A mining-and-processing integrated plant in Yaroslavl was founded in 1950. Its main production is fluor calcareous concentrate. It is the only big plant that produces the raw that is used when producing aluminum. Rated capacity of the plant is 1.5 million metric tons of ore a year.

Last Saturday the authority of Primie put up the plant for tender. The starting price is $54 million. Among there buyers there were Russian Ore Mining Company and Tehmet Company. As far as Kommersant is informed, Russian Ore Mining Company paid $54.6.

Its director, Eduard Yanakov, said that his company was established by Russky Aluminy and Russky Ugol. It’s Russky Ugol that manages the company.

However, Vera Kurochkina, press secretary of Russky Alluminy denied that ther company has something in common with the company. She said it could be Basic Element. The later didn’t deny this information. Kommersant’s sources in Primorie say that Energoatom participated in that too.

By 2008, the coal company is planning to spend $15-20 million on building a plant that will perform the spar. According to Yanakov, after modernization, the production value will increase up to 350.000 metric tons. 120.000-150.000 metric tons will go to China.

The head of Russian Ugol, Vadim Varshavsky, was mentioned in mass media mostly in connection with corporative scandals. They finally settled the conflict between Stupino Metallurgic Company and All-Russian Institute of light-metal alloys, which belongs to Russky Ugol. Besides, the company possesses coal business in Kuzbas and Rostov.

In Yanakov’s opinion, Tehmet, the rival of Russky Ugol on the tender, represented the interests of a former plant’s director, Viktor Korshunov. It’s quite possible, that the later will declare his rights for mining-and-processing integrated plant. At least that was the way the corporative conflicts with Varshavsky’s presence went. However, Yanakov ensured Kommersant that there will be no be another case like with Stupino Metallurgic Company.

by Maria Molina, Vadim Bertsov, Vladivostok

Russian Aluminium Giant to Resume Talks on Montenegro Smelter

MOSNEWS, Russia 15.03.2005 16:54 MSK

The world’s second largest aluminium producer Russian Aluminium (RusAl) has asked the government of Montenegro to resume talks on disputed points which have stalled the sale of state-owned aluminium smelter KAP, Montenegran daily Republica said on Tuesday, March 15.

Earlier this month the talks have stumbled over environmental issues, electricity prices and RusAl’s failure to submit adequate guarantees for its off-shore arm Salamon Enterprises, set up to run KAP. RusAl was the only bidder for a majority stake in the smelter. RusAl proposed that its top managers meet government representatives in the next few days on a neutral location like Paris or Athens, the paper quoted sources close to the negotiations as saying. It added that the Russians appeared willing to accept some environmental requirements and provide proper guarantees for Salamon.

RusAl had pledged to pay 48.5 million euro ($51.5 million) for a 65.5 percent stake and invest a further 55 million euros.

According to government estimates, quoted by Reuters, the debt-laden producer of aluminium and alumina has a book value of 45 million euros and owes $110 million to Swiss-based metals-to-grains trader Glencore, Standard Bank London and Montenegro’s Vectra. If KAP’s sell-off collapses again, the government will not call a new tender. Company sources told the agency that a likely outcome would be a buyback of part of the debts owed to Glencore and Standard Bank, and a spin off of parts of KAP for leasing or investment.

KAP, which accounts for half of Montenegro’s industrial output and 80 percent of exports, has a nameplate capacity of 280,000 tons of alumina and 102,000 tons of aluminium.

High world prices to drive aluminum exports

The Standard, Hong Kong March 17, 2005

Polly Yam

The mainland's net primary aluminum exports this year are likely to equal or even surpass last year as smelters, attracted by world prices near 10-year highs, shrug off a new export tax and local consumers turn away from imports, producers and traders said.

Exports had earlier been forecast to fall after Beijing introduced measures, including a 5 percent export tax, to limit growth within the power-hungry sector.

``It's 100 percent certain that [net] exports will be higher in the first half of the year,'' an official for an aluminum smelter in Guizhou province said.

``Exports for the whole year will not be lower than last year.''

Last year, the mainland's net exports of primary aluminum, used in the construction, packaging and auto sectors, were 707,843 tonnes.

Aluminum output rose 16.4 percent in the first two months of this year as smelters started new capacity, industry officials said.

Increased supply has pushed down domestic prices, encouraging end-users - many of which previously imported aluminum duty-free on condition they re-export their finished products - to buy the metal at home.

``Smelters are keeping up their exports, but imports are lower,'' an official at a southern smelter said.

From January 1, Beijing imposed a 5 percent export tax and removed a rebate worth eight percentage points of the 17 percent value-added tax that exporters must pay.

Aluminum prices have risen more than 6 percent since the start of the year for three-month delivery on the benchmark London Metal Exchange.

Producers and traders said mainland smelters sold aluminum at above US$1,950 (HK$15,210) a tonne in the international market and would continue exporting in the next few months.

Net primary aluminum exports stood at 91,205 tonnes in January, already 13 percent of last year's total.

But some smelters said high exports would continue only as long as the LME price - which closed at US$1,994 a tonne Tuesday - stayed strong.

``Some smelters are not expecting the high price to continue for long. That's why they've been selling as much as they have,'' an official at another smelter said.

The smelter officials said many plants are receiving term alumina priced from US$320 to US$380 a tonne, versus a current spot price above US$460, and will export aluminum at prices above US$1,900 a tonne.

They said increased exports and lower imports would reduce local supply of metal in the second half, which would eventually push up domestic prices.

Aluminum fabricators said Beijing is considering cutting a rebate, worth 11 percentage points on the 17 percent VAT, on exports of construction products made from mainland metal.

A reduction in the rebate would encourage fabricators to switch to importing aluminum for export-oriented processing trade, which they can do tax-free, said an official for one such plant in Nanhai, Guangdong.

REUTERS

Dubal lifts production

AME Info, United Arab Emirates 16-Mar-2005

Dubai Aluminium increased production by 40 per cent to 683,000 tonnes in 2004. Dubal contributes more than seven per cent of Dubai's gross domestic product after investing USD2bn in expansions since 1996. Its Potline-7 expansion, due to open in June, will raise production by 80,000 tonnes.

Norandal Orders Foil Mill Modernization

33Metalproducing 17-Mar-2005

IAS to install speed-tension control, shape control, and hot-edge spray technology

Norandal has placed a new contract with Australia’s Industrial Automation Services to modernize a four-high aluminum mill at its foil-rolling operation in Salisbury, NC. It’s the second recent award from Norandal to IAS, which in December began a project on a cold mill at the producer’s plant in Huntingdon, TN,

IAS will design, supply, and commission a speed-tension control, shape control, and hot-edge spray technology for the No.5 foil mill in Salisbury. The scope of supply for gauge and shape control improvements includes a new air-bearing shape roll, segmented coolant spray bars, work-roll bending, and steering control. Also included are series of mechanical upgrades, including: a dry strip package, ironing roll controls upgrade, new entry bridle, and exit coil car modifications. engineering design, project management, installation assistance and commissioning. ,

IAS will train Norandal’s operating personnel through its offices in Pittsburgh.

The IAS Achieva mill automation platform is an open-architecture control system that incorporates IAS’s easy to maintain, graphical programming interface.

The project at Norandal in Salisbury will include equipment from Parkegate Engineering, Shape Technologies, United States Controls, and Heat Exchange and Transfer.

by Metal Producing & Process (MPPstaff@penton.com)

Beijing halts building of nine alumina refineries

The Standard, Hong Kong March 18, 2005

Xiao Yu

China, the world's largest producer of aluminum, has halted the building of nine refineries that produce alumina to avoid "rampant'' mining of scarce ore reserves.

Beijing ordered local governments to shut down private projects being built or planned in central Henan, Shanxi and other provinces, according to a document compiled by the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top planning agency.

``Driven by high economic returns, some local governments in bauxite-rich provinces approved new alumina projects, which didn't meet the central government's requirements,'' the document said. The expansions are ``blind and rampant,'' it said.

The refineries, which would have started production over the next two to three years, had a total capacity of 2.9 million tonnes. China's biggest refiner, Aluminum Corp of China, or Chalco, will expand output to fill the gap.

Cao Yushu, a spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said Thursday a document has been sent to local governments, but declined further comment.

China is aiming for 8 percent economic growth this year after expanding 9.5 percent last year, fueling use of aluminum in buildings, cars and packaging. Investment in factories, roads and other fixed assets in urban areas increased 24.5 percent in the first two months of this year over last year.

``It's in the country's interest to have a centralized and orderly mining market to ensure it has enough resources for long- term consumption,'' said Fu Hao at E- fund Management in Guangzhou.

``It's positive for global alumina prices in the next two to three years,'' said Fu.

Spot alumina prices rose to US$480 (HK$3,744) a tonne in April, the highest in at least 10 years, driven by demand from China.

The material now trades at US$420 a tonne, the highest since June, according to London-based publication Metal Bulletin.

A 700,000 tonne a year refinery in Henan and a 400,000 tonne a year plant in Shanxi are among those to be halted, according to the government document.

The document, sent to Chalco as well as local governments, urges Chalco to develop its own bauxite mines. The company declined to comment.

China imported 5.9 million tonnes of alumina last year, nearly half its annual requirement, mainly from Australia, Jamaica and India. Aluminum output last year rose 20 percent to 6.6 million tonnes, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China accounts for 10 percent of global alumina output and has only 2percent of proven reserves of bauxite, the ore used to make the material, Liu Xiangmin, vice president of Chalco, said in November at a conference in Beijing.

Chalco plans to boost alumina capacity to about 10 million tonnes in the next two to three years to feed expansion of aluminum output, Chief Financial Officer Chen Jihua said at the National Australian Bank Asian Issuer Forum in Sydney on February 25.

Chalco's output was more than 6.5 million tonnes last year. BLOOMBERG

Alcoa employs PLM technology from IBM and Dassault Systemes

Computer Business Review, UK 3/21/05

Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum producer, has chosen Product Lifecycle Management technology from IBM and French software company Dassault Systemes to improve collaboration efficiency and increase integration between engineering and production.

21 Mar 2005, 16:39 GMT -

Alcoa's capital engineering for Cleveland Works has deployed the Smarteam Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform for facilities management across four locations, streamlining change management and providing unified access to AutoCAD and TIF drawings of presses, buildings and support systems at its Cleveland, Ohio site, as well as at production sites in Virginia, Hungary, and Mexico.

"Setting up an enterprise PLM system will allow us to expand our capabilities," said Dora Tripp, system administrator, design engineering sServices, Alcoa Cleveland. "Smarteam's flexible data model has enabled us to build a complex, scalable knowledge structure for accessing and collaborating with in our organization."

After a successful two-year pilot program, which saw Alcoa's other subsidiary, Wheel Products' Commercial Vehicle Wheel Division, implement Smarteam to vault and manage all its Catia V5 product design data, the program will now be extended by introducing more optimized processes across additional locations and achieving gateway interconnectivity with the company's ERP system.

Alcoa looks toward the Far East

Quad City Times, IA 03-Mar-2005

By John Heiderscheit - Viewpoint

Alcoa has seen its future. The future is China.

While the salaried work force is trimmed by 20 percent here in the Quad-Cities, the tone and substance of recent comments made to the media by CEO Alain Belda indicates that the company’s sales focus is anywhere but here.

.

The future of America is older people and their need for health care, nursing and sophisticated items for the aging, sick and dying. The future of China is aluminum.

.

Alcoa currently is negotiating in China installing a hot mill and power generation for a massive operation in southern China, Belda said.

"I think China will be permanently short of power," he said. "Anybody who is growing at 8 percent to 9 percent is growing energy consumption at 16 percent to 18 percent. It is the same kind of challenge of having power that you have in the U.S. and Western Europe."

.

Growth in the so-called BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — initially will be dominated by a voracious appetite for resources to build infrastructure as they create the equivalent of another Western economy over the next decade, Belda believes.

.

"We are in the midst of market transformation and growth similar to the one we experienced in the 1950s, when the world was reconstructing Europe and there was a great amount of urbanization in the U.S., Europe and some parts of Latin America," Belda said.

.

More than 1 billion people will be added to China’s cities by 2015, Belda said. "Alcoa sees opportunities for infrastructure products such as rail cars, building and construction materials, signs, packaging products, small planes and boats, primary metals, extrusions, and common alloy products."

.

America? It’s to be populated with gray or graying people. Growth in the West is likely to be dominated by technology and niche products for an aging population, health care, leisure and services, while the emerging economies plunge into larger runs of simpler products, Belda said.

.

Go east, young man, go east.

.

(Reuters News Servicecontributed to this story)

Batelco makes history with Alba's new IP telephony solution

AME Info, United Arab Emirates Monday, March 21 - 2005 at 17:06

Batelco is proud to announce the implementation of Bahrain's first large-scale Internet Protocol (IP) based telephony solution as part of Alba's potline-expansion project.

'IP telephony is a leading edge technology that offers customers an easy to use, cost-effective and flexible solution to communications requirements,' explains Ian Dench, General Manager - Sales and Marketing at Batelco. 'It is designed to reduce expenditure in addition to improving communications and enhancing employee performance for business customers.'

IP telephony provides an integrated voice and data network that allows staff to make telephone calls via fixed as well as wireless IP telephones, therefore enabling Alba employees to communicate anywhere on the Alba network - even over a remote connection. One of the results is increased productivity since employees will no longer be confined by the geographic location of a phone point or desk.

The Batelco/Alba project is based on world-leading CISCO IP telephony and has been implemented in cooperation with Batelco's systems integration partner Hewlett Packard (HP). The system was integrated with the former PBX system, thereby providing an up-to-date communications solution for the whole Alba plant without the need for any major changes in the 'legacy' voice communication systems.

'We are proud that our Alba project is another historic first for Bahrain's telecommunications industry,' says Ian. 'The implementation of a state-of-the-art IP telephony system on this scale is an outstanding achievement for all of the Batelco and Alba employees who were involved in this endeavour.'

Upon completion, Alba's expansion project is going to be the world's longest aluminium potline, spanning more than one kilometre in length. With a project this size, telecommunications is critical. Batelco's technical know-how and advanced product offering is helping to meet Alba's ever-changing needs and improve their business by dramatically cutting operation costs and increasing employee productivity.

Alcoa to cut 2,000 jobs

Jamaica Observer, Jamaica AP Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Alcoa Inc will cut 2,000 jobs around the world over the next 12 months and also announced yesterday that it has agreed to sell its 46.5 per cent stake in Elkem ASA, a Norwegian metals and energy group, to another Norwegian firm, Orkla ASA, for about $870 million (euro660 million).

The cuts in some of Alcoa's North American, European and South American operations will result in after-tax charges of $20 million (euro15 million) to $25 million (euro19 million), but should eventually save the company $45 million (euro34 million) a year. Alcoa currently has about 131,000 workers in 43 countries.

Alcoa reshaped its corporate structure last year to create six worldwide business units, such as alumina, automotive and aerospace. The company had previously based its structure more regionally, which led to duplicate tasks in North

America, Asia, or Europe, company officials said.

"The elimination of jobs is always a difficult decision and one that is not taken lightly," said Alain Belda, chairman and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh-based company. "But in order to put our company in the best competitive position and properly serve our global customers, they are necessary."

Alcoa, one of the world's largest aluminum producers, also said yesterday that it has agreed to sell its 46.5 per cent stake in Norwegian metals company Elkem ASA to Orkla ASA. Alcoa expects the deal will result in an after-tax gain of $180 million (euro137 million).

Alcoa said the transaction should be completed on April 5.

"We consider Elkem a well-run company with good prospects," Belda said. "However, we see no point in remaining a minority partner."

"We prefer to manage our assets and this offer gives our shareholders a very strong return on our investment in the company and allows us to use the cash more effectively on other projects with better returns," Belda said.

Alcoa shares rose 12 cents to $31.58 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have ranged from $28.01 to $36.60 over the past 52 weeks.

Orkla, an Oslo-based chemicals, food, media and investment firm, increased its holdings in January to a controlling 50.3 per cent stake in Elkem, and launched an offer to buy all remaining shares. The purchase of Alcoa's stake gives Orkla a roughly 97 per cent state in Elkem.

Alcoa says land swap for hydro power saved TN jobs

Schaeffers Research, Ohio 03-Mar-2005

Alcoa Incorporated cutbacks announced Tuesday are not expected to affect the company's aluminum smelting operations in Tennessee.

The Pittsburgh-based aluminum maker has yet to say where it will eliminate some 2,000 jobs over the next year to streamline operations. But a spokesman said there is no indication the company's Tennessee plants would be trimmed.

The Tennessee complex, about ten miles south of Knoxville, employs about 2,000 people in the production of rolled aluminum for cans.

Late last year, Congress approved a land swap with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that allowed relicensing of four Alcoa hydroelectric dams on the Little River that provide power to the Alcoa operations. The company said the move preserved the Tennessee jobs.

Copyright AP

Global Alumina disputes report that Guinea parliament has rejected planned

CBC News, Canada 01:39 AM EST Mar 25

TORONTO (CP) - Shares of startup metals company Global Alumina Products Corp. fell more than 17 per cent Thursday after a report that the parliament of Guinea had failed to ratify the Canadian company's proposal to build a refinery in the West African country.

Global Alumina stock fell 37 cents to close at $1.74, a decline of 17.54 per cent, in trading of more than 233,000 shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The selloff came after a report Thursday from Guinea by the Reuters news agency that the country's parliament had not ratified a deal with Global Alumina that would have allowed the New Brunswick-based company to build a $2 billion US alumina refinery in the country.

In the Reuters report, the country's new mines minister, Ahmed Tidiane Souare, said that legislators had expressed reservations about the deal and the government would have to forward another proposal.

"The contract with Global Alumina has not been ratified," Souare told Reuters. "We will submit another text as soon as possible."

The deal with Global Alumina, signed by Souare's predecessor last October, has been challenged by Alcoa Inc. and Alcan Inc., which control Guinea's biggest bauxite mining firm, ReEuters said.

In a statement late Thursday, Global Alumina disputed the report and said a ratification vote on its refinery plan will be held soon.

"The company confirmed that the Guinea parliament has not yet voted on the ratification decision that would allow Global Alumina to construct a $2 billion alumina refinery in the country," it said after stock markets closed.

"The Guinea parliament intends to vote on ratification in the near future."

Global Alumina has been raising money to help finance the next stage of development and construction of a 2.8 million tonne per annum alumina refinery in Conakry, Guinea.

The company, based in Saint John, N.B., wants to use the vast bauxite resources of Guinea to produce alumina for sale to global aluminum producers such as Alcan, Alcoa and others.

Alumina is a compound derived from bauxite which is used to make aluminum, a light industrial metal widely used in the packaging, aerospace and automotive industries.

Guinea holds more than one third of the world's resources of bauxite.

Though based in New Brunswick, Global Alumina (TSX:GPC.U) has operations in Boke, Guinea and offices in New York, London, Montreal and Conakry, Guinea.

© The Canadian Press, 2005

Russian power grid monopoly head wants aluminium

Russia Journal, Russia March 24, 2005 Posted: 11:41 Moscow time (07:41 GMT)

MOSCOW — Anatoly Chubais, the chief of Russia’s power grid monopoly RAO UES, raised the stakes in a dispute with Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska on Wednesday, by offering fifty-fifty ownership of a power plant in return for an equal stake in an aluminium factory.

Chubais has repeatedly clashed with Oleg Deripaska, who owns the world’s third-largest aluminium company Rusal, over control of the Boguchansk hydroelectric plant.

Deripaska intends to obtain full control of the plant and wants to secure power supplies for an aluminium plant to be built nearby.

"If you want 50 percent of the Boguchansk power plant, then the ownership of the aluminium plant which they want to build should also be 50-50. Then I’m ready," Chubais told Reuters.

UES and RusAl have set up a working group to negotiate terms for involvement in the project.

Indal to sport Hindalco name, logo

Sify, India - Mar 23, 2005

Kolkata: With the completion of all official formalities relating to the merger of Indal (Indian Aluminium Company Ltd) and Hindalco Industries Ltd, the logo as well as the name Indal have been replaced by Hindalco's logo and name in all offices and plants located in the country.

Established in 1938, Indal pioneered the domestic aluminium industry, and developed most of the usages of the metal in the country today. Vertically integrated through all stages of the aluminium business, from bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminium smelting to semi-fabricated products, Indal has moved from being a metal maker to a value-creator.

The commitment to value creation has also manifested itself in the growth of new business ventures, professional grade electronics, captive power generation and exports. An associate of Alcan Aluminium Company of Canada till the Canadian company's 34.6 per cent equity in the company was purchased by Hindalco a few years ago, Indal has acquired ISO 9002 certification for its electronics, foil and extrusions businesses. An ISO 9001 and 9002 were also received by its R & D centre at Belgaum in Karnataka.

The company benefited from continuous technology and personnel exchange with Alcan. Indal's organisation was structured into autonomous business divisions, each responsible for its own production, technology development and marketing, drawing upon centralised service functions in corporate finance, human resources development and materials management.

However, all the virtues and culture carefully nurtured by Indal since 1938 have now become a part of history.

Ghana Port Fire Kills At Least 3

Reuters Xtra News, New Zealand 25-Mar-2005

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?typeworldNews&storyID2005-03-25T215001Z_01_DEN557108_RTRUKOC_0_GHANA-FIRE-TOLL.xml

larger imageFireball explodes at Ghana's main port of Tema after a Greek vessel caught fire, damaging the west African country's only oil refinery and the supply belt to its Valco aluminum smelter

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo - Reuters. At least three people have been killed and up to 14 others are feared dead after they were trapped by flames and scorching heat on a boat during a fire at Ghana's main port of Tema, government and port officials say.

Firefighters had put out the blaze on the Greek vessel and recovered three bodies but they had to call off the search because the heat from its metal hull was still too intense hours after the flames were extinguished.

One charred body lay on the deck, witnesses said on Friday. The dead were taken to the morgue, with ambulances on stand by at the port waiting for more victims.

Ben Owusu-Mensah, director-general of the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, said he believed 17 people had been trapped onboard the MV Polaris and there was no chance any of them had survived.

"The heat from the steel alone would kill them," he said.

Port workers said two people jumped to safety from the vessel, which was docked for repairs, as the fire started. Plumes of smoke wafted across the port as flames leapt from pipes and patches of oil on the water.

Police said they were still investigating the cause of the blaze but initial reports suggested a spark from a blowtorch may have set fire to oil leaking from a pipeline.

The fire damaged Ghana's sole oil refinery and a supply belt to its Valco aluminium smelter, jointly owned by US-based Alcoa and the government.

The smelter is expected to restart in June, part of plans by the world's biggest aluminium producer to help develop an integrated aluminium industry in the West African country.

"The conveyor belt which leads from the Valco smelter to the port, about 300 metres of it has been completely burnt," Owusu-Mensah said, adding that the damage was highly likely to delay the resumption of Valco's operations.

A Valco executive however said the firm hoped to restart the smelter on time but it would need extra investment, estimating the damage at US$3 million.

Owusu-Mensah said the Tema oil refinery, which has a capacity of 45,000 barrels a day, had shut down its pipeline but residual oil in it was still burning.

"The biggest blow is that the pumping room of the refinery has been completely destroyed by fire," he said. Ghana is not a big oil producer and the Tema refinery is mostly for domestic use. No major supply disruption was expected, officials said.

Cocoa, coffee, cotton are also shipped through Tema, which lies on the meridian just east of Accra, the capital of the world's second-biggest cocoa grower and a major African gold producer.

The port has seen business boom thanks to instability in West African neighbour Ivory Coast, but officials say it lacks the infrastructure to cope, with vessels sometimes having to wait for weeks before they can enter the port.

Seventeen feared dead in Ghana blaze

Ninemsn, Australia 07:43 AEDT Sat Mar 26 2005

AP - A Greek fuel tanker went up in flames in Ghana's main port on Friday, trapping at least 17 people who are feared dead and shutting the West African nation's sole oil refinery, officials and witnesses said.

Sparks from welding ignited a fuel leak on the Greek-registered MV Polaris, which had been undergoing repairs at the port of Tema, 20 km east of the capital, Accra, witnesses said.

"At least three are confirmed dead because we have seen the bodies," said Ports Minister Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi.

Witnesses said there were 14 Ghanaians, one Guinean, one Greek and a Russian on board when the vessel burst into flame.

More than a dozen fire trucks and members of the Ghanaian Air Force helped put out the blaze, which shot flames and black plumes of smoke into the sky.

Energy Minister Mike Ocquaye said he ordered the state-owned Tema Oil Refinery shut down immediately to prevent further damage. A source at his ministry said the fire damaged part of the refinery, mainly affecting a pumping house for sea water that serves as a coolant.

The source said the fire also melted a supply belt to the refinery's aluminum smelter.

The refinery processes all Ghana's crude oil imports.

It was unclear whether the blaze would also affect exports from Tema, used to ship cocoa, Ghana's chief export, as well as for fuel distribution.

Century Aluminum Comments on First-Quarter Outlook

Express Newsline, India 26 March, 2005 by mandeep

Century Aluminum Company (Nasdaq:CENX) announced today that certain cost and production issues will have an impact on first-quarter results.

-- Mt. Holly shipments will be reduced by about five million pounds as a result of cast-house production problems. The Company anticipates that cast-house production will return to normal levels by the end of the second-quarter of 2005.

-- The Mt. Holly power surcharges are higher than expected. The higher surcharges will remain throughout 2005.

-- While the St. Ann bauxite equipment failure did not interrupt primary aluminum production at Hawesville, alumina inventories were drawn down to offset lower Gramercy alumina production. The Company has elected to purchase four barges of alumina at spot prices to restore depleted inventories.

The Company anticipates that first-quarter earnings will be reduced by approximately $0.10 per share.

Other than noted above, overall operations and results are consistent with the Company's expectations.

Century owns 615,000 metric tons per year (mtpy) of primary aluminum capacity. The Company owns and operates a 244,000 mtpy plant at Hawesville, KY, a 170,000 mtpy plant at Ravenswood, WV and a 49.67-percent interest in a 222,000-mtpy reduction plant at Mt. Holly, SC. Alcoa Inc. owns the remainder of the Mt. Holly plant and is the operating partner. Century also owns a 90,000 mtpy plant at Grundartangi, Iceland, and will expand that plant to 212,000 mtpy in 2006. After the completion of the 122,000 mtpy Iceland expansion, Century will own 737,000 mtpy of primary aluminum capacity. In addition, Century holds a 50-percent share of the 1.25 million mtpy Gramercy Alumina Plant in Gramercy, LA. Century's corporate offices are located in Monterey, CA.

EDITORIAL: Tema Catastrophe

GhanaWeb, Ghana 3/28/05

THE fire disaster that struck the PSC Shipyard and damaged the water house and pipelines of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the country’s only refinery, must be a strong warning that we should not take things for granted.

Reports indicate that there was welding work being done at the shipyard, while caution was thrown to the wind, leading to the fire outbreak.

We are constrained to comment on the cause of the fire outbreak, since a committee has been appointed to go into the matter and come out with its findings.

It is our hope that the assurance given by the Managing Director of TOR, Dr K.K. Sarpong, that the refinery is on top of the issue and that there is no cause for alarm is not only meant to defuse the tension or ease anxieties.

We are, however, happy that there is an insurance cover for the refinery and therefore the pressure on the economy would ease.

It is unfortunate that as the nation struggles with what to do with its petroleum issues, in the face of increases in the price of crude oil and agitations for a downward review of domestic fuel prices such a calamity should befall the nation.

We want to suggest that the area close to the refinery should be reserved for only vessels discharging crude oil. No other vessels should be allowed to berth there. It is unfortunate that whoever was using fire at the time, did not heed the warning allegedly issued out.

Heeding the warning would have averted the disaster. Apart from TOR, the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) and some other companies are said to have suffered damage caused by the fire outbreak.

Undeniably, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has oversight responsibility for the area. The authority surely derives revenue from the firms operating at the harbour.

Consequently, it has an obligation to ensure that things are put right in the area under its jurisdiction. It is our fervent prayer that all agencies that have responsibilities towards other organisations would act in their best interest, to their mutual benefit.

The nation is just fortunate that the damage is not going to hold us to ransom, going by the assurance from Dr Sarpong that we are out of the danger zone. Our strategic zones must be provided the needed safety and security attention.

Ours is a developing economy and we cannot afford to spend money that could have otherwise been expended on new projects to deal with avoidable and needless disasters.

Global Alumina shares up after it says Guinea refinery plan moving forward

CBC News, Canada Monday, March 28, 2005

TORONTO (CP) - Shares in Global Alumina Products Corp. shot up more than 11 per cent Monday after it said construction of an aluminum refinery in the Republic of Guinea will proceed as planned, citing a statement by the president of that country's National Assembly.

Global Alumina's stock (TSX:GPC.U) gained 20 cents to close at $1.94 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Trading in the company's shares was halted Thursday, but not before they had plummeted more than 17 per cent following a report that the Guinean parliament had not ratified a deal to allow the New Brunswick-based company to build the $2-billion-US refinery.

"The alumina refinery that is to be built in Sangaredi by Global Alumina will be the largest investment project ever realized in Guinea," President El hadj Aboubacar Sompare said in the statement.

"This project will have a major impact on the Guinean economy through the creation of thousands of jobs, the development of numerous infrastructures and by generating major revenue for the State, all of which will help to reduce poverty in our country."

Ratification of the project has been delayed "by several days so as to give the government time to discuss with Global Alumina some pending issues," Sompare said.

"This process, which is already nearly completed, will lead to effective ratification of this basic agreement within the next few days," he said.

Global Alumina CEO Bruce Wrobel said the company continues to "aggressively" move forward with construction of the 2.8-million tonne per year refinery.

Global Alumina also said Monday it has signed a $10-million-US agreement with Belgian dredging firm Dredging International to begin work on its Port of Kamsar marine terminal, quay, railroad yard, material handling and storage facilities project next month.

Though based in New Brunswick, Global Alumina has operations in Boke, Guinea and offices in New York, London, Montreal and Conakry, Guinea.

© The Canadian Press 2005

Global Alumina Expands Development Activities at Port Facility In Kamsar

mysan.de (Pressemitteilung), Germany

TORONTO, March 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Global Alumina Products Corporation (Global Alumina) (TSX: GPC.U), a company that proposes to produce alumina for sale to the global aluminum industry, is pleased to announce it has commenced the next major step in developing its Port of Kamsar marine terminal by entering into an agreement with the Belgium firm, Dredging International, for dredging and land reclamation activities. Dredging International (DI) -- http://www.dredging.com/ -- is a leader in the global dredging market and has conducted dredging and land reclamation activities in ports around the world.

"With the commencement of DI’s contract valued in excess of US$10 million, Global Alumina is increasing the intensity of our development activities to meet our construction schedule," stated Bruce J. Wrobel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Global Alumina. "DI’s dredging and land reclamation work is the first major step in our port development program. Mobilization for the reclamation work has already commenced with equipment, materials and personnel being mobilized from within Guinea and elsewhere in Africa, Europe and North America."

The first arrival of materials is scheduled for early April, with the Oranje, a large hopper dredge, scheduled to arrive in Kamsar in mid May. DI’s activities in Kamsar will include the dredging of more than 400,000 cubic meters of river materials from the future berthing area and the reclamation of more than 75 hectares of tidal lands, using over 1,700,000 cubic meters of sand and gravel, at the future site of Global Alumina’s land side terminal. The anticipated completion date is late August 2005.

In preparation for the reclamation work, Global Alumina began clearing activities for its 75 hectare land side marine terminal earlier this year. More than 180 local workers started the land clearing in January and have progressed on a continuous basis. Clearing is currently over 90% complete with the remaining activities scheduled to be complete by the middle of April 2005.

The second phase of the port development, the construction of the marine terminal quay, railroad yard, material handling and storage facilities, is currently out for international bid and is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2005.

Note to Editor: A Photo of the Oranje can be found in Global Alumina’s Photo Gallery at http://www.globalalumina.com/

Russian Aluminium tries cleaning up its act

Russia Journal, Russia March 28, 2005 Posted: 15:59 Moscow time (11:59 GMT)

By John Helmer

MOSCOW — On the eve of Good Friday, President Vladimir Putin called the leaders of Russia's major businesses to meet with him at the Kremlin. The oligarchs were hoping that Putin would go long on resurrection, and short on crucifixion, at least of the type that has kept their colleague, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison, and destroyed his Yukos oil empire.

At last Thursday's meeting, Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch who controls Russian Aluminium (Rusal), had his head down as Putin spoke, busy taking notes of the speech Putin was reading from three closely typed pages. Deripaska is the most active of the Russian oligarchs in Africa, with a big bauxite and alumina operation in Guinea, and ambitions to start aluminium smelting plants in Nigeria and the two Congo republics. He has also been trying to gain footholds in India, Venezuela, Jamaica, Australia, Rumania, and Montenegro.

Since the Kremlin issued a full text of the speech immediately, and Deripaska lacks short-hand notetaking among his skills, perhaps he was scribbling to show Putin how attentive he was.

Although Putin made one tentative concession to the assembled oligarchs -- to cut the statute of limitations on illegal privatization to three years instead of ten -- this can help Deripaska in no way, since he seized his aluminium assets and export revenues, not from the state, but from other Russian businessmen, plant managers, and workers.

"I consider it possible to support the idea of reducing the

statute of limitations on privatization deals from 10 years to

three," Putin announced, paying careful attention to the word "possible".

Putin did not say that he was shortening the statute of limitations on back-tax claims, something of much more urgent concern to most of the oligarchs, especially Deripaska. His Rusal group was identified last September in a report by the Tax Ministry to the cabinet as paying an abnormally low rate of tax on its booming aluminium export business. This, the report said, was achieved by use of tax minimization schemes, such as tolling, regional tax-offset zones, and transfer pricing. If Putin wants to unleash the tax men, he could deliver a tax bill for Rusal of more than $1 billion per annum for each of the past five years. According to Rusal, in 2004 its aluminium sales, mostly for export, totaled $5.4 billion. Its accumulated debt -- an undisclosed figure -- stands at over $1.5 billion.

Putin cannot easily change the Civil Code, even if Deripaska wanted him to. Even a concession on privatization violations is of doubtful value legally, because it is not the rigged privatization, in which the Russian government itself was involved a decade ago, that opens up the oligarchs to prosecution. It is their fraud, grand theft, embezzlement, money-laundering, racketeering, forgery, and other crimes, for which the statute of limitations cannot be reduced by a presidential decree.

In the remarks which Deripaska also dutifully copied down, Putin added that "a healthy competitive environment also depends on the appropriate corporate standards and effective self-regulation mechanisms within the business community itself." That was another warning, less ambiguous than the remark on privatization, that the oligarchs must clean up their acts.

Was this what Deripaska was doing when, a day later, it was announced in Moscow that he had settled claims against him and Rusal by Mikhail Zhivilo of Paris, former owner of the Novokuznetsk Aluminium smelter, which Deripaska seized five years ago?

It was that takeover, and the subsequent conversion of aluminium trading contracts signed between the smelter and the Base Metal Trading and Alucoal group of companies, controlled by Zhivilo, that were the basis of a billion-dollar damage claim in the US federal courts of New York. Although the substance of the allegations was never tested in the court, because it refused to accept US jurisdiction, international lenders to the Rusal group have been preoccupied ever since by the risks associated with loans to Deripaska's offshore companies and the Rusal group in Russia.

Despite the vindication claimed by Rusal from the refusal of the US courts to try the Zhivilo case, and from a parallel rejection of jurisdiction last year by a Stockholm arbitration panel, Deripaska has now agreed to pay Zhivilo between $50 and $60 million, according to a source close to the deal. In the Stockholm arbitration, Zhivilo had sought $325 million in a trading contract claim.

It is the third major payment in the past 12 months by Deripaska and Rusal to claimants who had gone to court around the world, accusing his companies of contract violations, or worse.

Last year, Rusal was obliged by a Zurich arbitration tribunal and the Swiss high court to pay a $100 million claim from Aldeco, a trading company controlled by Deripaska's arch-foe in Russia, Anatoly Bykov, the former head of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium smelter. Deripaska and Rusal have also paid off a group of consultants in the Republic of Guinea, who won a UK High Court judgement against them for $3.5 million.

Rusal refuses to respond to questions about the settlement with the Zhivilo group, or the earlier deals. A spokeswoman noted that, according to a written order issued by ex-Rusal official Yevgenia Harrison, company executives are forbidden from speaking to me, and will be punished if they do.

Harrison, and her London-based husband Fred Harrison, recently lost their contract to represent Rusal. They were behind a series of attempts to induce editors of aluminium industry publications, into publishing only the good news about their group.

It will not be easy for Rusal to demonstrate it is turning over a new leaf. A claim for more than $300 million by Deripaska's original offshore partner, David Reuben's Trans World group of London, remains to be adjudicated in the courts of the British Virgin Islands. There are other conflicts heading for the courts as well.

Again, as with the Zhivilo claim five years ago, the potential damages of the new litigation are not only substantial, financially. If they reveal Deripaska as unrepentant, his business tactics unchanged, and his potential domestic tax liabilities uncertain, they will continue to cast a shadow over Deripaska's efforts to persuade foreign governments otherwise.

Chalco Says Australia Mine, Alumina Project Valued at $900 Mln

Bloomberg - 18 hours ago

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the country's largest maker of the lightweight metal, said a mine and plant it's bidding to develop in Australia to secure raw material supply is valued at as much as $900 million based on market prices.

``We're at the stage of research and evaluation of this project,'' Chairman Xiao Yaqing said in an interview in Hong Kong today. The project in northern Australia will include a bauxite mine and plant to make alumina, both materials used to make aluminum metal, is valued at $800 million to $900 million, he said.

``This would be our first investment in Australia and we're confident in winning,'' said Xiao, who is also chief executive officer of the company, known as Chalco. Bidding may start by the end of this year and the company will lead a group of China companies in making an offer, he said, without naming them.

China's government is encouraging companies to seek raw materials overseas because of shortages and rising demand. China accounts for 10 percent of global alumina output and has only 2 percent of proven reserves of bauxite, the ore used to make alumina that is processed into aluminum, Chalco vice-president Liu Xiangmin said in an interview in November.

Other bidders include BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company; Alcan Inc. and OAO Russian Aluminum, or Rusal; Alcoa World Alumina Australia, Mitsubishi Corp. and Rio Tinto Group; the Queensland government said in November.

Alcoa World Alumina is a joint venture between Pittsburgh- based Alcoa Inc., the world's biggest aluminum maker, and Melbourne-based Alumina Ltd.

Site

Aurukun, on Cape York peninsula, holds an estimated 500 million metric tons of bauxite. Twelve registrations of interest in the deposit were received in total.

The Aurukun deposits were previously held by Pechiney SA, which was acquired by Montreal-based Alcan in December. The Queensland government revoked the lease this year after Pechiney didn't build a plant to refine the bauxite.

Chalco is also in talks with Brazil's Cia. Vale do Rio Doce to invest $1 billion in three years to build an alumina plant in Brazil with a first-phase production capacity of 1.8 million metric tons, Xiao said in the interview.

Both sides are negotiating technologies and operating costs, and aim to sign a final agreement by the end of this year, he said. Each will take 50 percent stake in the project.

The long-term output target for this project is to expand to 7.2 million tons, with total investment of as much as $4 billion.

Halt

China, the world's largest producer of aluminum, this month halted building of nine refineries that produce alumina to curb rampant mining of bauxite reserves, according to a government document compiled by the National Development and Reform Commission.

The plants had a combined capacity of 2.9 million tons, the document said.

Chalco may spend 10.5 billion yuan this year to expand its alumina and aluminum production from 10.2 billion yuan last year, according to Xiao. Alumina output will rise to 8.5 million tons from 6.5 million tons last year. Aluminum production will reach 850,000 tons from 780,000 tons through acquisitions and building of plants, Xiao said.

Chalco today had a 42 percent increase in second-half profit after it raised prices of alumina it sells to other smelters.

Net income rose to 2.82 billion yuan ($340.6 million) in the six months ended December from 1.98 billion yuan a year earlier. The figures were derived by deducting first-half from 2004 earnings released today by the company.

Chalco, which supplies more than half of China's alumina, raised the price of the material 34 percent last year as global costs surged to a record on concern about shortages.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Xiao Yu in Beijing at yxiao@bloomberg.net; or Loretta Ng in Hong Kong

at lng13@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Peter Langan at plangan@bloomberg.net

Global expects nod for Guinea refinery

Canadian Press Globe and Mail, Canada Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Page B8

TORONTO -- Shares in Global Alumina Products Corp. rose more than 11 per cent yesterday after the company said construction of an aluminum refinery in the Republic of Guinea will proceed as planned, citing a statement by the president of that country's National Assembly.

Shares of Saint John, N.B.-based Global Alumina gained 20 cents to close at $1.94 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Trading in the shares was halted Thursday, but not before they had fallen more than 17 per cent after a report that the Guinean parliament hadn't ratified a deal to allow the company to build the $2-billion (U.S.) refinery.

The statement by President El hadj Aboubacar Sompare said the Global Alumina project will have a "major impact on the Guinean economy through the creation of thousands of jobs, the development of numerous infrastructures and by generating major revenue for the state, all of which will help to reduce poverty in our country."

He said the green light has been delayed by several days so as to give the government time to discuss with Global Alumina some pending issues, but that the process, which is already nearly completed, "will lead to effective ratification of a basic agreement within a few days".

Global Alumina chief executive officer Bruce Wrobel said the company continues to "aggressively" move forward with construction of the 2.8-million-tonne-a-year refinery in Sangaredi.

Carbon trade bid hits wall

Australian, Australia March 30, 2005

Michael Bachelard, Victorian political reporter

QUEENSLAND is close to scuppering the Victorian and NSW governments' attempt to put in place a state-based carbon trading scheme.

While Queensland bureaucrats are still attending meetings to plan how such a scheme would work, the state's Energy Minister is understood to have told electricity generators that his Government would not implement emissions trading.

Victoria has been the driving force behind a state-based scheme, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, after John Howard rejected a proposal for a national scheme in mid-2003.

But Premier Steve Bracks has made it clear he will not introduce emissions trading unless it has the backing of all states and territories.

Queensland Energy Minister John Mickell said through a spokeswoman it was "unlikely the states and territories would effectively be able to implement an emissions trading scheme without commonwealth support".

Queensland continued to attend meetings and "participate in the work of the working group to protect Queensland's interests," the spokeswoman said.

It is understood that big electricity generators from Victoria have lobbied the Queensland Government to scuttle the scheme because it would make electricity more expensive.

Victoria's economy relies heavily on manufacturing companies whose energy-intensive businesses are fuelled by cheap but greenhouse-intensive brown coal. Victoria emits 25 per cent of national greenhouse gases.

An industry source told The Australian that Queensland had made it "very clear they weren't lining up to join this -- they were attending meetings just to make sure they could keep an eye on developments".

Queensland is worried that its future development in aluminium and other resource and manufacturing projects would be hampered if energy was made more expensive under a carbon trading scheme. It is also watching for a chance to gain a competitive advantage if other states impose a scheme that increases their power prices.

Under an emissions trading system, companies that emit carbon dioxide would be issued with permits to produce a certain amount of the greenhouse gas, but the number of permits would be reduced annually.

Companies that could cut emissions quickly and cheaply would be able to sell their excess permits to those who could not. They could also buy permits by investing in "abatement", such as forests.

But companies, particularly manufacturing businesses which rely heavily on electricity, view the scheme as a tax on production which would drive investment offshore to developing countries without greenhouse targets.

Alba commissions 25% of new 5 Reduction Line

Mena Report, UK Posted: 29-03-2005 , 15:13 GMT

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) marked a significant milestone Tuesday in its ‘100 Day Safe Startup’ challenge when the Line 5 Reduction Team successfully commissioned 25% of the new Reduction Line. This achievement was realized in just under 25 days following the launch of the 100-day venture at the end of last month. To commemorate the occasion and thank the employees for their support, the Line 5 Reduction Team treated everyone to an on-site lunch.

Having successfully kicked off the ‘100 Day Safe Startup’ challenge last month, a week ahead of the scheduled date, Alba is on track in realizing one of the most ambitious challenges witnessed to-date by the global aluminium industry - the safe startup of its new Reduction Line in just 100 days. Once achieved, the ‘100 Day Safe Startup’ will break the current world record by over 80 days and set a new world record for the fastest startup of an Aluminium Reduction Line.

"With 25% of the 336 pots successfully commissioned in less than 25 days, I am confident that we will realize the ‘100 Day Safe Startup’ challenge within the set timeframe. I would like to commend the Line 5 Reduction Team and all of Alba’s supporting units for their extraordinary effort and hard work in achieving this goal with the highest safety and quality standards as is customary of a project of such magnitude" commented Bruce Hall, CEO of Alba.

This significant venture is set to bring Alba’s US$ 1.7 Billion Line 5 Expansion Project to its ultimate climax by establishing a reputation for the company as a world leader in the aluminium industry while further positioning the Kingdom of Bahrain in the limelight of the international arena.

"With the startup of the 5th potline in just 100 days, Alba can pride itself in having set a benchmark in global industrial excellence. This will be a grand finale for the Line 5 Expansion and an admirable accomplishment for the company and its employees who, in the last two years, since the start of the planning and preparations for this challenge, have been working cohesively towards achieving this goal" continued Hall.

The Line 5 Operations Team in coordination with all of Alba’s supporting units, are required to energize an average of 4 pots a day to ensure that all 336 pots equally spread over the 1.2-km Reduction Line – currently the longest in the world - are fully operational within the 100-day timeframe.

The Line 5 Reduction Team is now working towards completing the 50% pot commissioning milestone before the middle of April.

Alba’s Line 5 Expansion Project marks a historic milestone in Bahrain’s aluminium industry and firmly establishes Alba as both a regional and global leader in its field. The creation of the 5th potline will expand the company’s annual aluminium production by over 300,000 tonnes per annum, making Alba the largest aluminium smelter in the world outside of Eastern Europe with a total output of 830,000 tonnes per annum.

This landmark development has brought major added benefits to the Kingdom and its economy with the creation of over 4,000 jobs during construction and over 500 permanent jobs during operation. This large-scale expansion has also created many lucrative opportunities for Bahrain-based companies and the local contractors who benefited from attractive budget allocations and exposure to work practices of international standards through Alba’s and Bechtel’s intensive safety measures and training schemes implemented throughout the Line 5 construction period. In addition, with the Line 5 expansion, Alba’s contribution to the local economy is set to increase to approximately 12%.

© 2005 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

Hindalco to set up aluminium plant in Jharkhand

Khalsa News Network, India 3/31/2005 1:01:00 PM

Hindalco, a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group, Wednesday announced it would invest Rs.78 billion ($1.78 billion) to set up an aluminium smelter plant with a 600 MW thermal power plant in Jharkhand.

A memorandum of understanding on the project was signed here between the Jharkhand government and Hindalco, a flagship company of the Aditya Birla Group.

The pact was signed in the presence of Chief Minister Arjun Munda and Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumarmangalam Birla.

The 325,000-tonne plant will be built at Tumbargarha in Latehar district. The project will be completed in the next 30 months and will be spread across 1,000 acres.

The project will generate 3,000 jobs and indirect employment opportunities for 10,000 people.

"This is one of the largest aluminium projects of the country. This will be a new era of growth for Jharkhand," said Birla.

"Hindalco produces aluminium at the lowest cost in the world. We hope the state government will do the needful to complete the project."

Chief Minister Munda said: "The state government is determined to promote investment in the state. This is a very important day for the state and for the government. We will provide everything required to complete the project on time."

Aluminium industry faces challenges

China Daily, China 2005-03-31 08:42

China's aluminium producers will face tough times this year as a result of mounting costs and unfavourable government policies, although the sector's runaway investment has been brought under control, according to industry officials and analysts.

Domestic aluminium manufacturers will continue to suffer shortages and high prices of alumina -- the main raw material -- and electricity this year, said China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry Association President Kang Yi.

China's aluminium exports will be controlled by government policies, which will intensify competition in the domestic aluminium market, Kang said.

China removed an 8-per-cent tax rebate at the beginning of this year, and reintroduced a 5-per cent tariff on aluminium exports.

The nation cut the aluminium export tax rebate to 8 per cent from 15 per cent at the beginning of last year.

These hardships and the resulting heavy losses will force more aluminium producers, especially small firms, out of business, warned Pan Jiazhu, the association's vice-president.

"As a result, the growth of China's aluminium output will fall sharply this year," Pan said.

Domestic aluminium output will rise by 6 per cent to around 7 million tons this year, he predicted.

This will be the mildest year-on-year growth registered by China's aluminium output since 2000.

Last year saw China's aluminium output grow 20.3 per cent to 6.67 million tons, according to the association's statistics.

The figure meant China remained the world's biggest aluminium producer.

Profligate investment in the aluminium sector was cooled down last year thanks to the government's macro-economic controls, Kang said.

Investment in the sector dropped 18 per cent year-on-year to 18.25 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) in 2004.

Last year, 33 of China's small aluminium plants were closed due to heavy losses.

Construction of 1.14 million tons of aluminium production capacity was halted in China last year.

The nation's annual aluminium production capacity totalled 94.7 million tons by the end of 2004.

Analysts warned of wider financial risks if many aluminium manufacturers go bankrupt or are closed.

"Most of China's aluminium producers expanded aggressively in recent years with bank loans," said Wang Feihong from Antaike Information Development Co Ltd, a Beijing-based metal industry consultancy.

"The risks of bad loans would climb greatly for banks if many aluminium plants closed," Wang pointed out.

The aluminium sector's profits stood at around 2.7 billion yuan (US$326 million) last year, only up from 2.3 billion yuan (US$278 million) in 2003.

"The profits were mainly created during the first half of last year. Most aluminium producers either had meagre profits or even made a loss during the second half of 2004," Wang added.

The combined profits of the aluminium and alumina sectors surged 68.2 per cent year-on-year to 10.68 billion yuan (US$1.29 billion) in 2004, mainly thanks to the alumina sector's bumper profits.

"Prices of alumina in China will remain bullish and even enjoy slight growth this year due to short supply," Pan said.

Nearly half of China's alumina demand is met by imports, Pan pointed out.

China imported 5.88 million tons of alumina last year, an increase of 4.8 per cent year-on-year.

The nation's alumina output was the second-highest in the world, having grown 14.53 per cent year-on-year to 6.99 million tons in 2004.

Despite strong demand, domestic alumina output will not increase greatly this year due to bauxite shortages, Pan said.

He forecast China's alumina output will reach some 7.7 million tons this year, up 10 per cent from 2004.

Wang from Antaike said the highly energy-consuming aluminium sector's power costs will further rise this year due to increasing electricity prices.

The price of electricity used by China's aluminium plants rose 0.04 yuan (0.48 US cent) to 0.36 yuan (4.35 US cents) per kilowatthour last year, increasing aluminium production costs by 600 yuan (US$72.5) per ton.

Government officials said recently that there will be little let up in China's electrify shortages and electricity prices will continue to rise this year due to rising coal prices.

China's removal of its aluminium export rebate will increase domestic aluminium manufacturers' export costs by 600 to 1,000 yuan (US$72.5-120.7) per ton, according to Antaike's estimates based on international aluminium prices at the beginning of this year.

The resumption of the 5-per cent tariff on aluminium exports will also increase domestic aluminium producers' export costs by 770 yuan (US$93) per ton.

Antaike predicted China's aluminium exports will drop sharply this year as a result of the two policies.

The nation's net aluminium exports stood at 1.68 million tons last year, up 34.83 per cent year-on-year.

However, Pan said the ongoing difficulties will be of long-term benefit to China's fragmented aluminium sector.

"The difficulties will accelerate the sector's reshuffle and technical upgrading," Pan said.

There are still 133 aluminium plants in China, although many small ones were shut down last year.

Twenty-three provinces in China had aluminium plants last year.

In 2004, there were 23 aluminium manufacturers in China, each with an annual output of more than 100,000 tons. The number was up from 16 in 2003.

These 23 aluminium producers accounted for 56.7 per cent of China's total aluminium output last year, up from 47.6 per cent in 2003.

Last year, the sector witnessed a slew of mergers and acquisitions led by Aluminium Corporation of China Limited (Chalco), the nation's biggest aluminium and alumina group.

Chalco paid 770 million yuan (US$93 million) last year for a 28 per cent stake in Lanzhou Aluminium Co Ltd in northwestern China's Gansu Province.

Three producers of aluminium and other non-ferrous metals in northwestern China's Shaanxi Province, central Hubei Province and eastern Fujian Province were also swallowed up by Chalco last year.

Foreigners keen on aluminium smelter project

Malaysia Star, Malaysia 30-Mar-2005

Five foreign investors are eyeing the proposed aluminium smelter project in Bintulu, Sarawak, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said.

He said the companies that were interested in the project were from Canada, China, the Middle East and Australia.

"They are all genuine investors," he said during a visit to OMG Fidelity (M) Sdn Bhd's plant in Kuching yesterday.

A newspaper reported that officials from China’s Shandong Luneng Group were in Kuala Lumpur to discuss with Energy, Water and Communications Ministry about its proposal to set up a US$1bil aluminium plant in Sarawak. Smelter Asia Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture between tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, Dubai-based businessman Mohamad Al Alabbar and West Asian investors, is the first company that has shown interest in the smelter project in Similajau, Bintulu.

Smelter Asia’s parent company, GHG Capital Sdn Bhd, had in 2003 signed an agreement to buy a 60% stake in Sarawak Hiro Sdn Bhd, the Bakun dam developer, but the deal had lapsed because GHG did not meet certain conditions.

Dr Chan, also state Industrial Development Minister, said as the project was energy-intensive, what was most important was the availability of competitive electricity for the smelter. He said potential investors would have to negotiate the supply of power from the Bakun dam project, which is expected to come on-stream by 2007.

INTERVIEW:Alcan Lines Up Chinese Buyers For Gove Alumina

Yahoo News Friday April 1, 8:45 AM

By James Attwood Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

SYDNEY (Dow Jones)--Canada's Alcan Inc. (AL) aims to sell the bulk of additional output from a A$2 million expansion at its Gove alumina refinery in Australia to Chinese aluminum smelters.

The refinery, located in the Northern Territory, is set to ramp up production capacity to 3.8 million metric tons a year by the first quarter of 2007, from 2 million tons currently.

The company says it is 5% into the expansion, dubbed G3 since it represents phase three of a four-part plan.

"The plan is to ship out alumina to Chinese smelters (since) our smelters in Australia are already supplied," said Alcan Gove Business Development Director David Sutherland.

"The bulk of growth in alumina demand has been from China (and) geographically we're well positioned for that market - but that doesn't mean we won't be targeting other export markets as well," he told Dow Jones Newswires in a recent interview.

A mixture of new and existing Chinese clients are already in place for the additional output, Sutherland said, without identifying off-takers or likely contract terms.

China's "Massive Demand" Is Overriding Factor

Sutherland downplayed the impact of China's well-publicized smelter stoppages and government moves to control the industry's growth, saying the overriding factor is the country's "massive demand" for all mineral materials, including alumina.

"At some point in time, there could be an infrastructure bottleneck, but at the moment for the sales we're targeting from this expansion, we don't see that as being of concern," he said.

His confidence is backed by comments this week by China's top producer. Chalco said alumina prices should stay at the current CNY4,330/ton level as China won't see too much new capacity coming on steam before 2007.

Recently released data for China's February aluminum production are also supportive, with output surging 8% to a record 7.38 million tons, reversing declining monthly output since November 2004.

Gas Supply Pipeline Moves Ahead

The upgraded refinery will be powered by gas from Woodside Petroleum Ltd.'s (WPL.AU) Blacktip field off the coast of the Northern Territory.

A consortium of Australian Pipeline Trust (APA.AU) and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU) was revealed last week as the preferred bidder to build, own and operate the 940-kilometer pipeline required to transport the gas to Gove.

Alcan has given itself until June to secure regulatory, land access and board approvals, as well as financing. Construction is projected to begin next year, allowing for gas delivery to Alcan in late 2007.

But Sutherland was quick to point out that the refinery expansion isn't conditional on completion of the pipeline.

"(We) currently operate on imported fuel oil and we can continue to operate on fuel oil while we're waiting for the gas pipeline. There are (cost considerations) but we're clearly better off commissioning the refinery as soon as we can."

Other expansion plans at Gove, including the last phase of its four-part plan, are still at a conceptual stage, he said.

Kaiser Aluminum Reports Results for Fourth Quarter, Full Year of 2004

Business Wire (press release), CA March 31, 2005

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 31, 2005--Kaiser Aluminum today reported a net loss of $637.5 million, or $8.01 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to a net loss of $573.2 million, or $7.16 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2003. For the full year 2004, Kaiser's net loss was $746.8 million, or $9.36 per share, compared to a net loss of $788.3 million, or $9.83 per share, for 2003.

The 2004 results include a non-cash pre-tax operating charge of $793.2 million -- including a fourth-quarter charge of $638.5 million -- nearly all of which is related to resolution of various matters in the company's Chapter 11 case, specifically the termination of the company's pension and post-retirement benefit plans and a related settlement with the United Steelworkers of America. Results for the 2003 periods also include special items and charges, as detailed in the accompanying tables.

Net sales in the fourth quarter and full year of 2004 were $257.7 million and $942.4 million, compared to $183.3 million and $710.2 million for the same periods of 2003.

Kaiser President and Chief Executive Officer Jack A. Hockema said, "Separate and apart from the required non-cash accounting charges -- nearly all of which are associated with incremental progress in the resolution of various matters in our Chapter 11 case -- we were pleased with the operating performance of our fabricated products operations in 2004. In particular, operating income for this business increased sharply compared to the operating loss of 2003. The year-over-year improvement was due primarily to improved demand, which resulted in increases in shipments and higher average realized prices. Similarly, the operating results for fabricated products in the fourth quarter of 2004 improved dramatically from those of the year-ago quarter. Shipments were especially strong in the fourth quarter of 2004, particularly for aerospace and automotive products. The quarter-over-quarter increase in average realized prices was partially attributable to product mix, with individual product lines displaying varying levels of recovery from their recessionary lows of the past several years."

Hockema said, "The company is making steady progress in resolving our remaining Chapter 11 issues, and we expect that Kaiser will emerge from Chapter 11 in the second half of 2005."

read full report here

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewIdnews_view&newsId20050331005569&newsLangen

Ascension alumina plant faces more fines, penalties

WBRZ, LA 31-Mar-2005

BY WILLIAM TAYLOR

wtaylor@theadvocate.com

Advocate staff writer

An Ascension Parish alumina plant continued to illegally pollute Blind River despite a 2004 settlement with the state, regulators and environmental advocates claim.

As a result, Ormet Primary Aluminum Corp. could face additional fines from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality as well as civil penalties from a federal lawsuit filed by an advocacy group this week.

Ormet employs about 230 workers at its Burnside plant to process bauxite ore into refined alumina for use in aluminum smelting. Some waste is either dumped or washes from the site into canals feeding Blind River.

Calls to Ormet were referred to T.G. Temple, vice president of corporate engineering. Temple was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

However, Ormet has appealed an enforcement order issued by DEQ in December and that matter is awaiting a hearing, DEQ Enforcement Administrator Peggy Hatch said.

The company was required to pay $15,300 to DEQ for violations that occurred before February 2004.

The new order could bring more penalties, Hatch said.

"What we want is for them to address these violations and for them not to happen again," she said.

Those are the same goals of a separately filed lawsuit brought Monday in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

In the suit, the network complains of ongoing violations at the Burnside plant from Feb. 1, 2004, through at least January of this year.

The network filed the suit with the assistance of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.

Ellen Addington, a third-year law student who will graduate in May, prepared the suit under supervision of her instructors.

She noted that the pollution cited in the suit includes chemicals that alter the acidity level of the water as well as other waste, including inadequately treated sewage.

The pollution puts at risk plant and animal life in the canals and river, she said.

The network's suit asks for fines of $27,500 to $32,500 per violation, which Addington said have numbered 13 since February 2004.

Hatch added that it is not unusual for environmental violations to bring separate actions by a state agency and a private group pursuing a lawsuit in federal court.

That's what the U.S. Clean Water Act allows for, she said.

These actions come as the Wheeling, W.Va.,-based company works to come out of bankruptcy reorganization. Ormet Corp. sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2004, blaming rising medical benefit costs, low aluminum prices and other factors for preventing it from meeting debt payments.

A reorganization plan was filed in the fall and the case is still pending.

According to previous news reports, the company employs 2,200 workers at its subsidiaries in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.