AluNews - April 2007

Iceland Municipality Votes Against Alcan

Houston Chronicle, TX - April 2, 2007, 2:18PM

© 2007 The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Residents of a small Icelandic municipality have voted against a planned $1.2 billion aluminum smelter plant expansion by Canadian aluminum maker Alcan Inc.

The no vote this weekend by 50.3 percent of the residents in Hafnarfjordur, a municipality of 25,000 people just south of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, carries broad implications for both Iceland's economy and for Alcan, the world's second-largest aluminum maker, which has signaled it might leave the plant.

The vote result also raised questions over the fate of other Icelandic smelters and projects, including those of Alcoa Inc., which is headquartered in New York but has major operations in Pittsburgh, and Century Aluminum Co. of Monterey, California.

Century spokesman Mike Dildine said the company is progressing with its planned expansion of its Nordural smelter in Iceland's south west.

It isn't yet certain whether Alcan can appeal the vote or whether it has to modify and resubmit its plans in an attempt to secure local resident approval. Last week, officials at the Isal smelter suggested the company would consider withdrawing from the country if the expansion didn't go ahead.

Opposition to the expansion centered on a plan to reroute a road rather than to the smelter per se, according to an Alcan spokeswoman in Montreal. This was part of a local urbanization plan, Anik Michaud told Dow Jones Newswires.

Iceland is an attractive location for aluminum smelting plants because of cheap electricity from hydropower plants.

Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery said Monday it is unfazed by the referendum and that it has "good support'"' for its own two projects from the local community there.

Lowery said the first of Alcoa's two projects in Iceland, the Fjardaal smelter, would be up and running in the next few weeks.

Alcoa is exploring the possibility of a new smelter at Husavik in Bakki, northern Iceland. The project could conceivably be the world's first smelter powered by geothermal energy, Lowery said.

Iceland is just coming through a period of high growth, boosted by recent aluminum plant investment.

The Alcan project "would have changed the economy dramatically," said Ingolfur Bender, a Reykjavik-based economist at Glitnir Bank. "The result means that the economy will cool down more rapidly than otherwise."

Economic growth jumped to 7.2 percent in 2005 from 2.7 percent in 2003 largely as a result of aluminum investment, prompting 18 interest rate hikes since May 2004 by Iceland's central bank to the current record high of 14.25 percent.

But growth slowed to 2.6 percent in 2006 as the projects concluded. Inflation has slowed to 5.9 percent in March from 8.6 percent in August and is expected to continue slowing.

Alcan mulls options for Iceland smelter expansion

8:55 a.m. April 2, 2007

MONTREAL – Alcan Inc. said Monday it is examining options for the proposed expansion of its ISAL aluminum smelter

in Iceland after residents of a local town voted against the project.

"Alcan has noted the results of the public consultation, and will now carefully review all available options," Michel Jacques, president and chief executive of Alcan Primary Metal Group, said in a statement.

Residents of Hafnarfjordur, near Iceland's capital city of Reykjavik, voted 50.3 percent against a local urbanization plan that included the expansion of the ISAL smelter, Alcan said.

Alcan, the world's second-largest market of primary aluminum, plans to expand ISAL's annual production capacity to 460,000 tons from 180,000 tons, making it Europe's largest aluminum smelter.

Start-up of the expansion is scheduled for 2010, with full production set for early 2011.

Alcan previously obtained a block of energy and Icelandic government approvals for the smelter expansion, the company said.

Alcan Reviewing Close Results of Iceland Hafnarfjordur Public Consultation Mon, 02 Apr 2007 15:50:00 GMT

MONTREAL, Canada, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Alcan Inc. announced today that it will carefully analyse the close results of last Saturday's public consultation in Hafnarfjordur andassess the impact these results may have on the future of its ISAL aluminumsmelter. Citizens of Hafnarfjordur voted by a small majority (50.3%) againsta local urbanisation plan that included the expansion of the ISAL smelter.

"Alcan has noted the results of the public consultation, andwill now carefully review all available options" said Michel Jacques,President and CEO, Alcan Primary Metal Group. "A large proportion of thecitizens of Hafnarfjordur support our project and I would like to thank them,as well as all of our ISAL employees, for their invaluable contribution inadvancing the development of this project that we believe is beneficial toall stakeholders," he added.

Employing approximately 450 people, the ISAL smelter has acurrent capacity of 180,000 tonnes per year. The planned expansion of theISAL smelter would see the implementation of Alcan's world-leading AP35technology, raising the total capacity to 460,000 tonnes per year. Start-upof the expansion is planned for 2010 with full production in early 2011.

"Alcan is proud of its 40-year relationship with the localcommunity in Iceland and will continue to work together with all involved toprovide for a better future for ISAL and all its stakeholders." saidJean-Philippe Puig, President of Alcan Primary Metal Europe and Cameroon."Alcan has recently secured a block of energy and the authorization from theIcelandic Government for the project," he added.

Alcan Inc. (NYSE: AL ; TSX: AL) is a leading global materials company,delivering high quality products and services worldwide. With world-classtechnology and operations in bauxite mining, alumina processing, primarymetal smelting, power generation, aluminum fabrication, engineered solutionsas well as flexible and specialty packaging today's Alcan is well positionedto meet and exceed its customers' needs. Alcan is represented by 68,000employees, including its joint-ventures, in 61 countries and regions, andposted revenues of US$23.6 billion in 2006. The Company has featured on theDow Jones Sustainability World Index consecutively since 2003. For moreinformation, please visit:

Kaiser Aluminum Announces Appointment of Chief Accounting Officer to Replace Outgoing Vice President and Controller (press release), Switzerland (2007-04-04)

Kaiser Aluminum (NASDAQ:KALU) today announced that Lynton Rowsell has been appointed Chief Accounting Officer to assume all the external reporting responsibilities of vice president and controller, Daniel D. Maddox, whose employment agreement ended on March 31, 2007.

Mr. Maddox and the company have entered into a three month consulting arrangement. In anticipation of Mr. Maddox's departure, Mr. Rowsell joined the company in October 2006 as director of external reporting.

"We are very grateful for Dan's many contributions over more than a decade as well as his work and dedication related to our emergence," said Jack A. Hockema, chairman, president and CEO of Kaiser Aluminum. "We are also thankful to Dan for ensuring the successful transition of his critical roles and responsibilities to Lynton. We wish Dan well and look forward to Lynton playing a more significant role in our future."

Mr. Rowsell has been working closely with Mr. Maddox for the past six months in his role as director of external reporting. Prior to joining Kaiser Aluminum in October 2006, Mr. Rowsell worked as assistant corporate controller for GeoLogistics, a freight forwarding company with revenues of approximately $2 billion. Prior to joining GeoLogistics, Mr. Rowsell was associated with the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, completing his tenure as audit senior manager.

Kaiser Aluminum is a leading producer of fabricated aluminum products for aerospace and high-strength, general engineering, and automotive and custom industrial applications. The company has more than 2,000 employees and 11 plants in North America and produces more than 500 million pounds annually of value-added sheet, plate, extrusions, forgings, rod, bar and tube. For more information, please see

Alutrint receives EMA approval - Trinidad & Tobago

Business News Americas, Chile, Tuesday, April 3, 2007 16:45 (GMT -0400)

Trinidad & Tobago's state-controlled Alutrint aluminum smelter project has received a major boost from the country's Environmental Management Authority (EMA) - approval of a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC), an EMA spokesperson confirmed.

The CEC approval does not grant Alutrint permission to commence construction immediately but does allow work to begin on the project, EMA official Alicia Charles told BNamericas.

"Within the CEC there are still a lot of stringent measures and things that they need to have in place before they can begin construction," Charles said, adding the CEC has been under evaluation for roughly two years.

"This is not an application that we had rushed through since April of 2005, which is when we got the application for this aluminum smelter. [We have been] collecting information, awaiting the environmental impact assessment, requiring further information," Charles added.

During the process, Alutrint was asked to present detailed information to prove it conforms with specific standards on air quality, ground water monitoring and others, she said.

Alutrint is a JV between the Trinidad & Tobago government, which holds 60% through the National Gas Company (NGC), and Venezuela's Grupo Sural with 40%.

The US$465mn smelter to be built at Union Industrial Estate in La Brea on Trinidad island will produce 125,000t/y to supply local car parts manufacturers and rod, wire and cable producers. Raw materials for the smelter will come from abroad, according to previous press reports.

By Anthony Esposito

Business News Americas

EDITORIAL: Valco Must Come Back!, Washington - April 3, 2007


The Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO) has been forced to shut down due the current energy squeeze in the country. This is not the first time that VALCO has been forced to cut back on or suspend production altogether.

In its 40 or so year history, it has gone through shutdowns, re-openings many times spanning the country's several post-independence political eras. The present shutdown is therefore not unique to the current political dispensation.

We are making this point because it is essential to separate the politics from the historical, technical and economic facts, so as not to mix unsavoury flavours like some people who should know better have already started doing in the media.

VALCO remains one of the most complex and demanding industrial concerns in the country. The joy is that it is being run by Ghanaians, and well too. This is a fact all Ghanaians who say they love their country should celebrate.

The temporary shutdown did not arise as a result of poor management or bad investment decisions, but due to insufficient supply of power from VRA, which is itself in the throes of one of the driest periods in its history. VALCO, like TOR, like the erstwhile AGC and a few other mega industries in Ghana are essential to the country's economy.

We need more of them, not less. Let no one, and we emphasize, no one, think that the temporary shutdown at VALCO is something to be taken lightly and dismissed with airy statements in newspaper articles. The normally bustling company is now like a ghost town with all the workers sent home. That cannot be good news.

But there is good news; the company is poised to spring to life as soon as the power situation becomes stabilized in the next couple of months. When the workers come marching back to their jobs, we will all jump in celebration, but before that, let's cut out ignorant sentiments that border on irresponsibility!

Gazprom, Romania's Conef Energy sign long-term gas deal

RIA Novosti, Russia - 04/ 04/ 2007

MOSCOW, April 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] and Romania's Conef Energy SRL have signed a contract for natural gas deliveries to Romania in 2010-2030, Gazprom said in a press release Wednesday.

Under the contract, Romania will receive up to 2 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually, with an aggregate supply volume due to reach 42 billion cubic meters.

Russia has supplied natural gas to Romania since 1979, and some 110 billion cubic meters of Russian gas was exported to the country as of April 1, 2007.

Conef Energy SRL is a subsidiary of Ñonef SA and part of the Marco Investment and Industries Group, an international company that controls a vertically oriented aluminum holding, a number of financial and investment companies, developers and other companies around the world.

Ñonef SA has cooperated with Gazprom Export, Gazprom's export arm, since 2002. Russian natural gas deliveries, effectuated as part of the partnership, have significantly improved Romania's energy situation.

Bechtel: 2006 best year yet

Infrasite, Netherlands 04-Apr-2007

San Francisco, United States of America - The 2007 Bechtel Report is the annual overview of the privately held Bechtel group of companies. The Bechtel Report 2007 can be downloaded at

Below you can read part of the Business Review which is page 3 of the report (total 10 pages)

Business Review extract

Our Mining & Metals unit, a global leader in the aluminum industry, worked on major aluminum smelters in Oman and Iceland, as well as a carbon anode plant in Norway.

Alutrint smelter plant gets greenlight

Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Thursday | April 5, 2007

Trinidad's Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has given clearance to Alutrint for construction of a smelter plant at the Union Industrial Estate in la Brea.

EMA managing director Dr. Dave McIntosh told a news conference late Monday that a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) had been approved for Alutrint, a joint venture between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, to develop a 125,000 tonne per year aluminum smelter.

But he told reporters that the decision was based on predictions and estimates, as the environmental impact of the smelter cannot be accurately determined since the plant is not yet operational.

Stringent standards

McIntosh said it was now up to Alutrint to stay within the stringent standards with regards to air and water quality, noise, soil quality and ecology of the area and the environs.

"The task the EMA will now face as we move forward with this application is one of monitoring and understanding what the baseline conditions are, so we can examine any shifts in terms of the human health of the area or impacts on vegetation and wildlife," said the environmental regulator.

Waste export

The EMA said it was also satisfied that the company had made arrangements to export hazardous waste material to a facility in Arkansas, in the United States.

McIntosh told reporters that it had taken more than a year to grant the CEC despite the Patrick Manning Government's apparent rush to get the project off the ground.

Energy Minister Dr. Lenny Saith said last week that construction of the plant would begin within a month.

The U.S.-based aluminum company, Alcoa, has also submitted a request for clearance for a similar plant. McIntosh said that matter was still before EMA.


Three-way merger creates worlds largest aluminium and alumina producer

Mining Weekly, South Africa - 6 Apr 07

The deal to combine the aluminium assets of Russian companies Rusal, Sual and Swiss commodities producer and trader Glencore, has been completed.

The combined company created by the deal, United Company Rusal (UC Rusal), is now the world’s largest aluminium and alumina producer.

The new company’s production capacity totals about four-million t/y of aluminium and 11-million t/y of alumina, thereby surpassing rival producers Alcoa and Alcan in size.

UC Rusal’s assets include four bauxite mines, 10 alumina refineries, 14 aluminium smelters and three foil mills.

It also owns extensive, high-quality bauxite reserves and has access to a significant energy base, including the power produces by some of the world’s largest hydropower plants in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The company’s assets are located in seven countries across five continents, and it has more than 100 000 employees.

UC Rusal’s CEO is Alexander Bulygin, who was previously the CEO of Rusal.

Commenting on the launch of UC Rusal Bulygin said that the deal was a proactive response to several significant industry trends – dynamic growth, competition to secure access to energy and raw-material resources, and active consolidation to enhance competitive positions.

"Our global presence, strong financial base, access to hydropower and proprietary technology provide UC Rusal with a strong platform to support our future development.

"Our goal is to become an international metals and energy corporation," Bulygin averred.

In a statement, UC Rusal said that the company plans to undertake an initial public offering in the next three years.

Previous Sual chairperson, oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who is now the non-executive chairperson of UC Rusal, said that the new company planned to boost production volumes and undertake expansion projects.

It is expected that the merger will significantly benefit Russian aluminium production, in particular, as it will make the enlarged company self-sufficient concerning raw materials.

Russia, where most of Rusal and Susal’s smelting infrastructure is based, does not have sufficient supplies of bauxite and alumina, and the companies historically had to rely on purchases of these input material abroad to sustain production.

Glencore will contribute the following alumina refineries to the transaction – Aughinish, in Ireland; Windalco and Alpart, in Jamaica; and Eurallumina in Italy.

Its Kubikenborg aluminium smelter, in Sweden, will also form part of the deal.

Rusal will bring its aluminium smelters in Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novokuznetsk and Sayanogorsk, alumina plant in Achinsk and alumina refineries in Nikolaev and Boksitogorsk – which are all located in the CIS – to the table.

Rusal will also contribute its interests in the Friguia alumina plant, in Guinea; the Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia, in Guinea; the Bauxite Company of Guyana; the Alscon aluminium refinery, in Nigeria; the Queensland alumina refinery, in Australia; Eurallumina, in Italy, Armenal, Sayanal and a cathode plant in China.

Sual will contribute its Irkutsk, Urals, Kandalaksha, Bogoslovsk, Nadvoitsy, Volgograd and Volkhov aluminium smelters, Zaporozhye aluminium combine, Pikalevo alumina refinery, SUBR, Urals Foil, SUAL-Silicon-Ural and SUAL-PM.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Rusal’s shareholders own 66% of the new company, with Sual shareholders 22% and Glencore 12%.

While UC Rusal has no mining or production assets in South Africa, the status quo could possibly change in future.

Vekselberg is the chairperson of Renova, which is already active in South Africa. Swiss company Investment Partners AG manages the company’s South African projects, the most advanced of which is United Manganese, of Kalahari, in which Renova has a 49% share, the other 51% being held by historically disadvantaged South Africans.

At the recent sixth, session of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation, cochaired by South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and by Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev, the Russian and South African delegations affirmed their support for Rusal, which has expressed an interest in both constructing an aluminium plant in this country and in expanding South Africa’s energy supply capacity.

UC Rusal already owns a bauxite mining complex and an alumina plant in Guinea.

In February, the company bought 77,5% of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (Alscon), comprising a 193 000-t/y capacity smelter, a power station, and a port on the Imo river, in Nigeria.

UC Rusal will invest $150-million over the next three years in completing, refurbishing and upgrading Alscon.

Once operational, it will mean that UC Rusal will be able to undertake the entire aluminium production cycle within West Africa, mining bauxite and turning it into alumina in Guinea, and then smelting it in Nigeria.

Vedanta Alumina signs fresh MoU with Orissa

Financial Express, India - Apr 4, 2007

BHUBANESWAR, APRIL 4: Vedanta Alumina Ltd a subsidiary of the Sterlite Industries Ltd signed a fresh memorandum of understanding with the Orissa government for setting up its alumina-aluminium complex in Kalahandi and Jharsuguda districts.

The company had been created as a subsidiary of the Sterlite Industries Ltd to execute the project which necessitated signing of the fresh MoU, company sources said.

The state government has signed the MoU with Sterlite Industries Ltd on June 7, 2003, for establishment of an one million tonne per annum alumina refinery with an investment of Rs 4,500 crore at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district.

The project also included a 100 mw (25 x 4) captive power plant.

Work was presently on the company's 2.5 million tonne smelter and 675 mw (135 x 5) captive power plant at Bhurkhamunda in Jharsuguda district with a total investment of about Rs 8,400 crore.

Orissa's Industries Minister Biswabhushan Harichandan and senior officials were present at the signing of the fresh MoU.

State Industries Secretary Priyabrata Patnaik and Vedanta's project Director M Siddiqui signed the MoU.

The project would create direct employment opportunities for 1500 people and indirect employment for 7,500. The contribution towards tax revenue to the state would be about Rs 600 crore per annum, they said.

China to fight aluminum sector overheating, encourage consolidation-state planner The Foreign Exchange Market, Spain Tue, Apr 10 2007, 03:46 GMT

BEIJING (XFN-ASIA) - China will work to ease overheating in the aluminum smelting sector and encourage more consolidation, in moves designed to avoid a sharp rebound in investment in the industry, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top planning agency, said.

"In the face of continued blind investment in aluminum smelting and fast-paced capacity expansion, additional macro-measures will be implemented to discourage over-rapid investment and encourage consolidation across the sector," the commission said on its website.

It added that the latest measures were necessary despite an overall slower rate of investment in aluminum smelting in China last year, during which the rate of growth fell by 9.6 pct, with no absolute figures provided.

The NDRC also said 2006 electrolytic aluminum exports fell by "a large margin" without providing further details.

Aluar begins furnace construction at Puerto Madryn - Argentina

Business News Americas, Chile, Monday, April 9, 2007 16:56 (GMT -0400)

Argentine aluminum producer Aluar (Buenos Aires: ALUA) has begun construction works on an anode baking furnace that is part of an expansion project at its Puerto Madryn plant in Chubut province.

"The company recently completed its gas pipeline and immediately began furnace works," a provincial official told BNamericas.

Construction of the anode baking furnace requires refractory brick, the official added.

Expansion works at the plant will cost US$650mn and aim to increase Aluar's production capacity from 280,000t/y to some 400,000t/y.

According to company estimates, the first stage of the project will kick off before midyear. "The good news is that the job is on schedule," an Aluar executive said in March.

Aluar is the country's only primary aluminum maker and exports 85% of its output, mainly to the US, the EU and Asia. The company is controlled by the Madanez Quintanilla family.

By Harvey Beltrán Business News Americas

All Metals & Forge Launches Metals Information Resource Website

PARSIPPANY, N.J., April 9, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- All Metals & Forge LLC, a metals service center and forge facility, has revised its web site,, adding hundreds of new pages covering metal alloys, metal forgings, custom hand-rolled bar, custom melted metal, value-added services, metal industry reference information, a periodic table, forward looking white papers, an international metal specifications cross-reference database, and the top industry-related daily news articles. Also featured is MetalsWatch!, a newsletter by Tom Stundza of Purchasing Magazine, that provides subscribers with critical information about the metals industry. With over 1,200 pages, the site is an expansive resource for purchasers of alloy steel, aluminum, carbon steel, copper, magnesium, nickel, refractory metals, stainless steel, super alloys, titanium, tool steels, and zirconium used in the metalworking industries.

"This launch is the culmination of 9 months of work to combine islands of information gathered over 40 years into one comprehensive resource for metal purchasing, material specifications, industry news and future-looking white papers for the aerospace, aircraft, automotive, defense, energy, manufacturing, metalworking, nuclear, petroleum, power generation, shipbuilding, and tooling industries," said Lewis Weiss, president of All Metals & Forge. "We will continue to add to the breadth and depth of information for our customers and the engineers, purchasing agents, metal buyers, specifiers, and craftsmen in the metalworking industries around the globe."

All Metals & Forge is an ISO 9001, AS 9100 and EN 9100 registered and certified company that provides metal service center products in all mill forms, including flat, round, hex, hollow and square bar, extrusions, fittings, flanges, foil, sheet, strip, plate, pipe, wire and tubing, as well as forged discs, hubs, blocks, shafts (including step shafts or flanges), sleeves, cylinders, flats, hexes, rounds, plate, and some custom shapes. The company can also produce flat, round, square and hex bar in custom sizes up to 3-inch or 76.2 mm cross section; and melt from 250 to 25,000 pounds of obsolete, hard-to-find or custom chemistry metal for applications ranging from specifications on old blueprints to new research and development materials.

"Our intent is to combine the best aspects of a metal service center, a forge facility, and producer of custom materials with resource information that we customarily use, and share our knowledge base with everyone in the industry to save them time and cost in the process of getting and working metal for their particular needs, from specifying it and pulling it from the shelf to cutting, heat treating, testing and expediting delivery," said Weiss. "Sharing information is critical during a time when metal pricing is changing from one day to the next, particularly in nickel and titanium at the moment."

The All Metals & Forge, LLC logo is available at

CONTACT: All Metals & Forge LLC

Lewis A. Weiss


US/CAN: 800-600-9290

RUSAL denies deal with Indian company

RosBusinessConsulting, Russia - 09.04.2007,

Moscow 15:29:36.United Company RUSAL considers India as a potential country for developing its business, Olga Sanarova, a spokesperson for the Russian-based aluminum giant, told RBC. RUSAL is interested in India from the point of view of developing its business there, Sanarova said, adding that it was premature to speak of any specific projects in the country at the present stage.

Indian media reported earlier today that United Company RUSAL and India's Essar Group intended to set up an alumina enterprise with a capacity of 1m tonnes in India, citing a proposal sent by the Russian-based group to the management of Essar. However, the Indian company has not made a final decision regarding this proposal yet. The project's cost is estimated at around $1bn. Other details of the prospective deal have not yet been revealed.

Japanese invested aluminium hydroxide plant to be built

VietNamNet Bridge, Vietnam 10 Apr 2007

Japanese and domestic partners submitted a project license for approval to the Ba Ria - Vung Tau provincial People's Committee in order to build a $300 million aluminium hydroxide plant, on April 9.

The joint-venture between Sojitz corporation, the Nippon Light Metal Company, the Vietnam National Chemical Corporation and the South Basic Chemical Company, will use $200 million in credits granted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Covering 100 hectares, the plant will house a 40-ha factory and a 60-ha waste treatment facility.

Its raw materials will be sourced from a bauxite-mining site in Bao Loc district, in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The provincial authorities plan to conduct research next week to help the investors find an appropriate location for the plant.

The Nippon Light Metal Company is the biggest in Japan that specialises in producing high-quality aluminium products. Sojitz is, meanwhile, one of largest Japanese trading company.

Countywide puts cost to fix odors at $22 million

New Philadelphia Times Reporter, OH 10- Apr-2007

By ROBERT WANG, Copley Ohio Newspapers

PIKE TOWNSHIP – Countywide landfill’s owner has told Wall Street it will cost an additional $22 million to solve odor and fire problems at the dump.

That’s on top of about $4 million Republic Services said it spent last year trying to vanquish the stench emanating from the southern Stark County landfill.

"It’s a lot of money," said Republic spokesman Will Flower. But "this is an environmental issue we’ve committed to fixing."

Republic owns the 258-acre landfill formally known as Countywide Recycling and Disposal Facility.

The waste company, which had revenue of more than $3 billion last year, revealed the estimate in an April 3 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Republic believes it will cost about $22 million to comply with orders it negotiated last month with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The orders require Republic to pay a fine of more than $1 million, continue efforts to fight the odor that can be smelled miles away, close Countywide’s original 88-acre area and develop a plan to deal with fires the EPA believes are burning beneath the landfill.

The reaction of aluminum waste known as dross with liquid waste spread throughout most of the 88 acres is believed to be causing the intense heat and odors.

Republic’s filing also said that its inability to dump more waste in the 88 acres will cost it about $3.3 million this year.

Flower said Republic will try to get the generators of the aluminum dross waste to help pay for the cleanup and monitoring costs. That includes Barmet Aluminum – now part of Aleris International – and anyone who took the aluminum scrap to Barmet’s recycling facility in Uhrichsville as far back as the 1980s. The waste was trucked from Uhrichsville to Pike Township from 1993 to 2001.

An Aleris spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Fiddlers under the roof – Vekselberg, Deripaska and Gilbertson

Mineweb, South Africa - Tuesday , 10 Apr 2007

Asset claims shadow Rusal IPO and Consmin takeover bid

Author: John Helmer


With a little more bulge at the waistline, and a little more bush in his beard, Victor Vekselberg would be a dead ringer for Tevye the Milkman, hero of Fiddler on the Roof, Broadway's most famous musical about Russia. The fiddler of that tale was a symbol of survival in the rough days in Russia, before the Communist Revolution.

In the fifteen years since that revolution was reversed, starting in 1992, Vekselberg has survived especially well. You might say that Victor's theme song has taken all the conditional out of Tevye's famous refrain, If I were a Rich Man:

Lord who made the lion and the lamb

You decreed I should be what I am

Would it spoil some vast eternal plan

If I were a Wealthy Man?

But as a fiddler, according to complaints that are being tested in the courts of Russia and other jurisdictions, Vekselberg is a schemer of a different sort, allegedly converting other people's assets to make them his own. He denies this, and so does his most important lieutenant for the past two years, Brian Gilbertson. Both are about to ask the London market to believe them - Vekselberg in a main board listing of bauxite and aluminium producer, United Company Rusal; and Gilbertson in an AIM listing of the merger between manganese, chromite, nickel and iron-ore miner Consolidated Minerals (Consmin) and Pallinghurst Resources.

The allegations are also a test for JPMorgan Cazenove, which is believed to be seeking a mandate for the Rusal IPO; and which, on March 30, was formally named by Consolidated Minerals as its global broker, replacing Numis Securities.

Eleven months ago, according to one of Russia's wealth charts, Vekselberg possessed a fortune of $9.7 billion. Another wealth tracker, Forbes Russia, estimated it at $10 billion for 2006; that was double his fortune in 2005. According to Forbes also, Vekselberg occupied the 5th rung of the Russian ladder of fortune. These estimates are all based on the attributable value of Vekselberg's stakes in aluminium and bauxite producer SUAL; oil company TNK-BP; and conglomerate holding company, Renova. Vekselberg should soon be in a position to know exactly what his paper is worth, because he is selling out - converting his SUAL stake into 22% of the newly merged United Company Rusal, and then selling a sizeable share of that in a London IPO; selling his shares in TNK-BP for cash, probably to state owned oil company Rosneft; a big chunk of Renova's power stakes are also up for cash sale.

Buyers from Vekselberg, however, are obliged to ask the simple question - are the assets he's selling lawfully his? And not only buyers - Vekselberg's quondam rival, now erstwhile partner in United Company Rusal, Oleg Deripaska, is also facing similar challenges to the legality of his claim to the assets comprising his 66% stake in the new company.

A source close to them both has told Mineweb that, in their negotiations of merger terms, each agreed to give the other the following discount-premium offer: if asset claims are settled with compensation payments, then the concomitant loss of value in the merged company must be compensated. Either Vekselberg may gain shareholding at Deripaska's expense, or vice versa; or they may pay each other the money their asset troubles have caused.

There are two pending claims, one against Vekselberg, involving an alleged fraud in SUAL's takeover of the Volgograd Aluminium Plant; and one against Deripaska by his former partner and godfather, Mikhail Chernoy, over a trusteeship agreement granting Chernoy a 20% stake in the pre-merger Russian Aluminium (Rusal) company, its capital value and its dividend stream; according to Chernoy, that sums to about $5.2 billion.

The case against Vekselberg's companies has been moving through the Russian courts, and is now being prepared for filing abroad. The case against Deripaska was filed in the UK High Court last November 24. Mineweb has reported the detail of both cases before.

The case claims set out allegations and particulars, which lawyers and bankers, who have been invited to prepare the marketing of the new Rusal shares in a London listing, cannot avoid investigating, especially not if they are subject to the supervision of US Government regulators. Both Vekselberg and Deripaska concede they are in an awkward position there. Vekselberg renounced his US green card (permanent immigration visa) and limits his exposure to US court claims already pending against him, alleging fraud and theft of an oilfield. Through a spokesman, Deripaska has acknowledged being banned from entering the US for several years; a ban which UK and Australian officials have also corroborated, while they waived it for Deripaska to cross their frontiers. But the US visa he was granted between 2005 and 2006 has not been renewed. Lawyers for Deripaska in the UK have drawn up affidavits claiming he is almost never at his Belgrave Square house, or in his country home besides.

In Deripaska's case, it was his butler who may prove to be the Achilles heel, jurisdictionally speaking. Sources close to the Chernoy case say that, following the High Court filing late last year, detectives shadowing Deripaska warned process servers that he was on his way from his aircraft to his home at 5 Belgrave Square, in London. When his car pulled up, the process server made his move, and Deripaska scuttled for the tradesman's entrance of the mansion. It was the butler at the front-door who took Chernoy's writ - and he has subsequently testified that he gave it to Deripaska. The High Court will hear argument from lawyers in the case over whether Deripaska has been lawfully served, and the case may commence. If the judge rules in favour of Deripaska's butler, the lawyers go into further argument over whether Chernoy's claim to have executed his shareholding deal with Deripaska in London allows the High Court to adjudicate the dispute. When and if the case comes to trial on the merits, Deripaska will testify that the signature on the agreement with Chernoy isn't his.

Registration of offshore companies, and initial placement offers (IPOs), also expose Vekselberg and Deripaska to government regulators and courts. Announcing the intention to sell shares in the new Rusal on the London Stock Exchange is an open invitation for those who claim their assets were fiddled to apply to the UK courts to retrieve them. Deripaska may have already proved that he is fleeter on foot that his Belgravia butler, but his and Vekselberg's acquisition tactics are now catching up with them.

Brian Gilbertson, one of South Africa's best-known businessmen, says he had nothing to do with any alleged unlawful asset takeovers when he was chief executive of SUAL, the Russian aluminium company controlled by Vekselberg. What Gilbertson did, or didn't do, knew or didn't know, during his time in Russia may be a footnote, as far as the Russians are concerned. But Australian shareholders, and regulators may be much more interested, when they review this month and next Gilbertson's takeover bid for Consolidated Minerals (Consmin) of Perth.

According to public announcements that began in February, Gilbertson and a South African associate Arne Frandsen have proposed a friendly takeover by their Pallinghurst Resources of Consmin. Details of where Pallinghurst's A$300 million cash offer is coming from are scarce. Gilbertson has told Consmin he is "targeting $1 billion of equity commitments"; that doesn't sound like the money is either in Gilbertson's pocket, or in Pallinghurst's bag, at least not yet. Brisbane-based AMCI, controlled by Hans Mende, has been identified by Gilbertson as one of his backers for the Consmin takeover. Six weeks ago, AMCI sold its Australian coal assets to CVRD of Brazil for A$835 million; subtracting net debt, it appears to have A$678 million cash on hand. Some of that appears to be buying Mende a seat on the board of the post-takeover Consmin. The Western Australian media have also reported rumours that Gilbertson's bid is being backed by Vekselberg as a silent partner in Pallinghurst.

South African sources have told Mineweb they believe Gilbertson may have converted Vekselberg's promise to pay him a multi-million dollar bonus for a successful share listing for SUAL, because Gilbertson couldn't deliver on the IPO; and because Vekselberg was reluctant to concede the obligation to pay the reward. Gilbertson declines to say if he and Vekselberg have settled for a promise from Vekselberg to deliver several dozen million dollars into Pallinghurst's capital. Vekselberg's spokesman also prefers not to answer questions on the matter.

With or without Vekselberg, however, Gilbertson's credibility is the driver of Pallinghurst's takeover of Consmin; if he succeeds in creating the new company, to be listed in London and Frankfurt, Gilbertson and his associates would control it with 60% of the shares. But first the Australian, then the London market, must decide whether Vekselberg's and Gilbertson's acquisition record in Russia warrants trust.

Gilbertson's name appears as one of the alleged defendants accused by Ralco, a 17% shareholder in the Volgograd Aluminium Plant, one of the key production assets taken over by SUAL soon after Gilbertson became chief executive of SUAL in Moscow in August 2004. Ralco says it was swindled out of its shareholding stake, and the Volgograd smelter fraudulently incorporated by SUAL between 2000 and 2005. Ralco's complaint has been before the Russian courts already. Asked what had happened to the Volgograd shares, Gilbertson told Mineweb: "I am satisfied that SUAL acted lawfully during the period of my tenure as President, and as you know, we had a well-staffed legal department to ensure that that was the case."

Gilbertson's contract with SUAL began in August 2004. It ended at the start of this month, when SUAL agreed to merge with rival Russian Aluminium (Rusal), owned by magnate Oleg Deripaska. Gilbertson, who had been first choice to become chairman of the board of the new United Company Rusal, was dropped, and Vekselberg, who controls about 22% of the new company, has been named the new chairman.

For several years, Ralco has been pursuing both SUAL and Vekselberg's holding Renova through the Russian courts, alleging they contrived the takeover of the Volgograd plant, using false-front companies that have since disappeared; forgery of documents presented in the Russian courts; false testimony; and fraudulent share transactions. The Russian authorities have investigated and substantiated some of Ralco's evidence, but Russian court rulings in Ralco's favour have been impossible to pursue, because the culprit companies have disappeared, or are empty of assets. International litigation to go after the alleged culprits has been in preparation instead.

The Volgograd smelter is an important asset in the merger deal between SUAL and Rusal. That deal officially closed, according to an announcement from the two companies, on March 27. Vekselberg was quoted by Rusal last week as claiming the new company "will promote a world class corporate governance structure, enabling us to meet the highest international standards..."

First built in 1959, and upgraded since then, aluminium production from Volgograd is estimated to account for 17% of SUAL's pre-merger output. In the merged Rusal, it comprises at least 4% of metal production. At the start of 2005, Renova, Vekselberg's personal holding company, announced the takeover of the smelter by SUAL: "The process of incorporating OAO Volgograd Aluminium (VgAZ) into OAO SUAL Group has been completed," Renova's website says. "On 31 December 2004 VgAZ became a subsidiary of OAO SUAL. The incorporation of VgAZ was the final step in consolidating the aluminium assets that followed an agreement signed between SUAL Group and the management company, SevZapProm, in December 2002. Under the agreement, VgAZ and the subsidiaries of OAO Metallurg, Volkhov Aluminium and Pikalevo Alumina, were integrated into the SUAL Group production chain two years ago. In 2004 OAO SUAL was re-organised to integrate these companies. On 30 September 2004, Volkhov Aluminium and Pikalevo Alumina became subsidiaries of OAO SUAL."

"The re-organisation of OAO SUAL and integration of VgAZ was based on a decision taken at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders on 31 August 2004. An absolute majority at the meeting voted in favour of the incorporation of VgAZ into OAO SUAL. On 15 December 2004, an amended charter was adopted at an EGM of OAO SUAL's shareholders to reflect this re-organisation. On 31 December 2004 the Uniform State Register noted the termination of activities at VgAZ. This formal procedure finalised the consolidation of OAO SUAL Group and VgAZ, its eighth subsidiary."

That states the legal position in Russia, as Vekselberg sees it, and also Gilbertson. Ralco's position in the Russian courts has won rulings from the bench, and Ralco sees the legal position differently. This is a challenge to the plans Vekselberg and Deripaska have announced to publicly list and sell their shares in the London IPO. Investment bankers claim the new company should hit a valuation of $30 billion.

Ralco has identified Gilbertson and Vekselberg, along with two others linked to both SUAL and Renova; plus 18 companies that fall under Russian, US and UK jurisdiction.

Ralco charges that its 17% stake in the Volgograd smelter was first diluted illegally, and then taken in a regional court case far from Moscow, when debts and evidence were fabricated, and the judge misled, while Ralco was kept in the dark, and "represented" at a court hearing by an impostor paid by Ralco's attackers. Ralco estimates the value of its stake at more than $40 million, and it has the option to seek treble damages if it can prove racketeering.

A string of two Russian and one Cyprus-registered companies has also been identified as participating in the alleged scheme to convert Ralco's shares into SUAL property in the months just before Gilbertson took office, and in the following six months.

Gilbertson acknowledged in mid-2005, almost a year after he took over at SUAL, that he was aware of the Volgograd smelter case and the Ralco claims. He said he was appointing a new legal counsel at SUAL to look into the affair. Maxim Goldman took this position in July 2005.

In November 2004, after Gilbertson's engagement and following a Volgograd regional court ruling, which had invalidated the dilution of Ralco's shareholding, SUAL had said through a spokesman: "concerning Volgograd Aluminium, we are sure our partners are in the right. Beyond this, we do not wish to add anything further."

That's as kosher as Tevye the Milkman could have wished for - unless it's wishful thinking.

Al plant construction to begin in Jul - Venezuela

Business News Americas, Chile - Wednesday, April 11, 2007 16:27 (GMT -0400)

Construction is on track to begin in July of a plant in Caicara del Orinoco in Venezuela's Bolívar state for the nation's new aluminum rolling social production company Serlaca.

"Primary studies are being finished. After that we can proceed with plant design and construction," a spokesperson from Venezuela's basic industries and mining ministry (Mibam) told BNamericas.

The government aims for the plant to be finished by late 2009 and fully operational by early 2010, according to the official.

The Serlaca social production company will require a US$210mn investment and will have installed capacity of 114,000t/y, the spokesperson said. The figure is 30,000t higher than the 84,000t announced at the end of 2006 when the project was launched.

Of the total output, 54,000t will be tagged for special alloy production and the rest will be sent to the nation's automotive, naval, aviation and pharmaceutical sectors, the executive said.

"The goal of this new plant is to provide added value to the aluminum produced by [state reducers] Alcasa and Venalum and to reduce primary aluminum exports," the spokesperson said.

The project is receiving technical assistance from national basic industries company Coniba and state oil company PDVSA, BNamericas previously reported.

By Harvey Beltrán, Business News Americas

China's aluminum raising ire of Beijing, markets

Reuters - Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:23AM EDT

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Consuming enough electricity to power Mexico for a year, China's often maligned aluminum industry appears unstoppable, raising the ire of Beijing and weighing on world prices.

Neither government threats of a clampdown nor a lack of power supply has dampened the industry that is expected to expand production by more than a third this year.

Fixed-asset investment in the sector has jumped more than 124 percent in the first two months of the year for the energy intensive industry, government statistics show.

Aluminum production is expected to rise to 12.6 million tonnes from 9.2 million tonnes in 2006, said Heng Kun, metals analyst at Essence Securities in Beijing, who is in line with industry predictions.

Meanwhile, China's consumption of the metal may rise 23 percent this year, say analysts, leaving some 2.0 million tonnes for export.

Exports may be proving a drag on world prices (MAL3: Quote, Profile, Research), which have only risen about 4.5 percent so far this year, peaking at $2,935 a tonne on Tuesday, but lagging other metals such as copper, which has risen by nearly a quarter since December.

"I would expect total aluminum exports to increase further through this year, weighing on prices," Adam Rowley, a London-based analyst for Macquarie Bank said of China.

But exports are also a red flag for the Chinese government, which is concerned that its trading partners may view China's rising foreign sales as dumping products on world markets.

"The government is strongly opposed to rising aluminum capacity for two reasons. One is that the flood of aluminum and steel is likely to increase tension with trading partners, including the United States," said John Kemp, economist at Sempra Metals.

The United States is concerned about China's exports of paper and has complained to the World Trade Organization about Beijing's enforcement of intellectual property rights.

"The government doesn't see any future in China exporting power in the form of aluminum and one of the country's top three priorities is to improve energy efficiency," Kemp added.

But the question is whether the industry is on a collision course with Beijing.

On Tuesday, the central government issued an urgent circular ordering local governments to check growth of the industry. The powerful National Development and Reform Commission, the industry's regulator, reiterated an order for local governments to cut off unauthorized projects from land and credit. It also demanded reports on efforts to shut down such projects.

Some analysts think Beijing may finally be getting serious.

"But over the last year, Beijing has taken steps against those provincial governments that have failed to implement central policies," said Sempra's Kemp. "Beijing may have been ineffective in reining in capacity expansion in the past, but that may not be the case now."

China has tried curbing credit, restricting land use and boosting export taxes, but the moves have failed because of high profits with smelters making about 3,000 yuan, or $388, for each tonne of metal they produce.

Those profits mean industry growth is off to a roaring start in 2007, with aluminum production jumping 35.4 percent in the first two months of the year to 1.8 million tonnes. And up to 4 million tonnes of new capacity could be added in this year for a total capacity of 14 million tonnes.

And analysts say the government cannot count on the industry being constrained by a lack of power. Aluminum is sometimes referred to as congealed electricity due the large amount of energy needed to produce refined metal.

Industry officials and analysts say rising power capacity will be sufficient to meet the demand due to improvements in the country's infrastructure and the move by smelters to build their own power plants after the big power shortages in 2004.

"Power shortages do not exist," analyst Heng of Everbright said, adding some provinces produced more than they needed last year.

Smelters in China, according to government estimates, are expected to consume 51 billion additional kilowatt-hours of electricity for a total of 189 billion KWH this year.

That would be enough to meet the power needs of Mexico or Ukraine for a year, according to the latest statistics from the CIA Factbook.

The State Electric Grid Corporation has forecast that China, the world's top electricity market after the United States, would have installed capacity of 852 gigawatts by the end of 2010, against 390 gigawatts in 2003.

"We are not worried about power supply in the coming five years," said an investor who is building a smelter in the southwestern Guizhou province, rich in coal and water resources.

In the longer term, analysts and industry officials believe companies, led by Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. (2600.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), may shift to coal-rich regions such as Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi because electricity costs form a big part of production costs.

(Additional reporting by Nick Trevethan in Singapore)

Alcan pulling out of Utkal project in India

Globe and Mail, Canada - 12-Apr-2007


Alcan Inc. is pulling out of a controversial project in India, suggesting plans for a bauxite mine and alumina refinery are too risky for the Montreal company, considering its lack of control over the venture.

The aluminum producer plans to sell its 45-per-cent stake in Utkal Alumina International Ltd., the Indian company set up in 1992 to develop the mine and refinery in the State of Orissa.

The Utkal project has been marred by conflict with local residents opposed to its construction, which would require the displacement of three villages and at least 200 families. Local critics have estimated that as many as 22,000 people could be affected.

"We have carefully weighed the opportunity and risk presented by the Utkal Project, and, given constraints within the governance structure that limit Alcan's ability to participate in key decisions, believe that we have acted in the best interests of all our stakeholders," Jacynthe Côté, president and chief executive officer of Alcan Bauxite and Alumina, said in a statement.

Alcan's partner in the project, which is still in the engineering stage, is Hindalco, the industrial division of the Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla group. Hindalco launched a takeover bid worth $3.4-billion (U.S.) plus debt, earlier this year for Novelis Inc., a maker of rolled aluminum that Alcan spun off in 2005.

In the past, Alcan has said it would have to invest up to $600-million, in the Utkal project if it were to proceed.

In December, 2000, police in Kashipur opened fire on protesters opposed to the Utkal mine and smelter, killing three people.

Dick Evans, Alcan's president and CEO, was confronted by protesters at the company's annual general meeting in Montreal last year, shouting "Alcan out of Kashipur!"

A resolution calling on Alcan to sponsor an independent committee to asses the project's impact on the community was narrowly defeated. More than a third of shareholders voted in favour of the proposal.

In a note to clients, TD Newcrest analyst Greg Barnes said the Utkal project "does not fit with Alcan's approach to sustainability."

Ormet Announces New CEO

Business Wire (press release), CA - 12-Apr-2007

HANNIBAL, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ormet Corporation today announced that it has hired Mike Tanchuk to replace Ken Campbell as the organization’s chief executive officer, effective May 1, 2007. Campbell will assume the responsibilities of chairman of the board.

Tanchuk is joining Ormet from Nordural, a division of Century Aluminum located in Grundartangi, Iceland, where he has served as vice president and managing director. Nordural’s current aluminum smelting capacity is 220,000 metric tonnes per year.

"Tanchuk’s extensive experience running aluminum smelter operations both inside and outside the U.S. is exactly what we’ve been seeking," said Campbell. "And he has a similar management philosophy that closely aligns with the environment we’ve created here at Ormet over the past year."

Prior to joining Century Aluminum, Tanchuk was president for Alcoa’s Primary Business Unit – Northwest Region. He has also worked in other executive and managerial capacities for Alcoa, as well as for Reynolds Metals Company and Inland Steel Company. Tanchuk has 30 years experience in the metals industry.

Headquartered in Hannibal, Ohio, Ormet Corporation is a major U.S. producer of aluminum, aluminum billet products and smelter-grade alumina. Ormet employs approximately 1,000 people. For more information, visit the website at


James Communications, Inc.

Linda Regelman, 412-428-0050 or 412-296-2284

Director of Public Relations

Alcan launches unique aluminum FeederPlex(TM) cable for commercial and industrial markets

CNW Telbec (Communiqués de presse), Canada - 14 Apr 2007


ATLANTA, United States, April 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Alcan Cable, a division

of Alcan Inc.'s (NYSE, TSX: AL) Engineered Products group, introduced today

its new STABILOY(R) FeederPlex(TM) cable, an innovative solution for phase

conductor identification in commercial and industrial applications. Consisting

of a plexed assembly of STABILOY Type XHHW-2 conductors with color coded phase

conductors, FeederPlex provides total installed cost savings for pipe and wire

installations while providing clear phase identification.

"As the only plexed aluminum conductor assembly offered in the

marketplace today, FeederPlex cable offers a unique solution to phase

identification requirements," said Ian Hewett, President, Alcan Cable. "The

introduction of FeederPlex cable demonstrates Alcan Cable's continuous

commitment to deliver quality products and innovative solutions to our

customers," he added.

The light weight and flexibility of STABILOY aluminum conductors

facilitates the pulling of the conductor assemblies into a raceway during

installation. FeederPlex cable eliminates the need to assemble and parallel

multiple conductors and minimizes the number of reels and product SKUs

required for stocking each color and wire size combination at the job site. In

addition, the use of FeederPlex improves cable performance by providing lower

voltage drop than the assembly of paralleled conductors.

STABILOY FeederPlex cables are UL listed, approved for use in accordance

with the recommendations of the National Electrical Code in the U.S.A., and

are available in three and four conductor assemblies in a wide range of sizes.

Recognized as the only fully integrated aluminum cable supplier in North

America, Alcan Cable is a leading manufacturer of aluminum and aluminum alloy

cables for the utility, residential, commercial, institutional and industrial

construction markets.

In addition to STABILOY FeederPlex cable, Alcan Cable recently launched

MODEX(TM), a unique wiring system designed for the commercial construction

market, and N2(TM) NUAL(R), a multi-conductor armoured cable assembly to

mitigate the effects generated by harmonic currents in electrical systems.

More information on Alcan Cable and its products is available at

Alcoa expects global aluminium surplus of 300,000 mt in '07 Apr 13,2007 Platts

US industry major Alcoa has revised its aluminium supply/demand picture and now expects a global aluminium supply surplus of 300,000 mt in 2007 versus a previously expected balanced market. The previous forecast was made three months ago. The aluminium market saw a deficit of 200,000 mt in 2006.

Alcoa Chairman and CEO Alain Belda said during a Tuesday evening conference call that Chinese consumption is expected to continue at a strong 23.1% growth rate this year. North America should see flat consumption growth in 2007 after several years of strong growth; Europe, up 3%; Latin America, up 4.4%; Asia (excluding China), 4.5%; and the CIS, 4.7%. Part of the reason for the flat North American growth is due to the downturn in the truck sector, said Belda. Total world consumption growth this year is expected at 7.7%.

Alcoa also is expecting a global surplus of 200,000 mt in the aluminium sector 2008, versus a previous estimate of a balanced market. "We believe in growth of aluminium consumption over the next 15 years," said Belda. "We expect continued strong demand and growth." Despite the expected surplus this year, Belda said over the next several years, "It will be a challenge for new smelter construction to keep pace with demand growth." China in particular is constrained by a lack of power supplies, "but I believe they will succeed," he said.

The global alumina sector is expected to see a surplus of 1 million to 2 million mt this year. That compares with a previous forecast of 1.5 million to 3 million mt made three months ago. The change stemmed from increased demand from Chinese aluminium smelters and to the disruption in bauxite earlier this year amid labor unrest in Guinea. 2008 should bring a balanced alumina market, Alcoa predicted.

Alcoa is seeing "robust demand" in the aerospace sector, with five-year backlogs at manufacturer Boeing and Airbus, said Belda. Alcoa's is operating at or near capacity at most of its facilities. Belda added that continued increases in builds and a resumption of A380 demand in the fourth quarter will fuel strong demand. Alcoa is bringing additional capacity to the market in low-cost areas such as Russia, China and Hungary.

In the automotive sector, North American production is expected to be flat year over year this year, although with continued "distress" among the Big Three, said Belda. However, European production was up slightly at 2% year over year. Belda said the loss of share at the Big Three will continue to challenge Alcoa's cast wheels and AFP units. It is working to increase penetration of the transplants, such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai.

Suriname government considers lobbying for Alcoa smelter

Caribbean Net News, Cayman Islands Monday, April 16, 2007

By Ivan Cairo,Caribbean Net News Suriname Correspondent, Email:

PARAMARIBO, Suriname: The current administration is prepared to negotiate with multinational Alcoa to build an aluminum smelter in Suriname, if plans to construct a smelter in Trinidad & Tobago are cancelled, a government minister here disclosed.

Construction of the multi-million dollar facility in the Chatham/Cap-de-Ville area is being strongly opposed by local communities and environmental organisations in Trinidad.

"We’re not ruling out the possibility for a lobby campaign for the smelter," said Gregory Rusland, Suriname’s energy minister in an invited comment. He added that, with or without a smelter in Trinidad, the Suriname government will negotiate for establishment of an aluminum smelter in the country since, according to the minister, the country will have a significantly larger income with the production of aluminum instead of just bauxite or alumina.

Due to increased production costs, Alcoa’s subsidiary in Suriname, Suralco, terminated aluminum production in the country several years ago.

Minister Rusland stressed that environmental concerns should not be an issue as long as these matters are addressed and taken into account seriously when such plans are being tabled. Before a decision to build any facility, which has significant effects on the environment and local communities, an environmental and social impact study will be done, Rusland said.

The minister further stated that, if Suriname is pushing for greater economic development, the country has to pay a price and that some of that price would be to give up part of its environment and bio-diversity. However any industrial activity should be in such a fashion that it would put as little stress as possible on the environment.

The resistance in Trinidad to the aluminum smelter could be a second chance for Suriname to have such facilities. Some four years ago Alcoa’s top official Alan Belda visited Suriname and offered the Venetiaan administration a US$3 billion integrated aluminum facility including a smelter. However the government rejected the offer. "We could still benefit from that missed opportunity," said the energy minister.

Currently, preparations are well underway to start negotiations with Alcoa/Suralco and BHP-Billiton for a bauxite mining contract for the lucrative deposits in the Bakhuys Mountains in the western part of Suriname. The minister warned, however, that although the exploration in these areas were executed by the two companies, it is not self-evident that these companies will eventually win the contract.

Rusland reiterated that Suriname should earn as much as possible from its natural resources and therefore will choose the best option or interested party which will deliver as such. The minister stated, however, that a relation of over 90 years with Alcoa and BHP-Billiton "is not something that you brush aside easily."

"We have a lot of experience with these companies and, with a new partner of whom you know nothing, of the future is uncertain," said Rusland.

Next week, President Venetiaan will swear in a team of experts that will negotiate with the multinationals.

Meanwhile, the internationally renowned research institute, TNO Delft in the Netherlands, has won a contract to analyse the data the multinationals have collected during the explorations in the Bakhuys Mountains.

Several members of Parliament and financial advisers to the government have suggested that the government open an international bidding round for the bauxite deposits in the Bakhuys Mountains.

Guinea revokes oil, bauxite agreement

Mineweb, South Africa - Monday , 16 Apr 2007

As part of Guinea’s review of all existing minerals contracts, agreements made with Hyperdynamics and CBK, a subsidiary of RUSAL, have been withdrawn.

Author: Saliou Samb, CONAKRY (Reuters) -

Guinea, the world's No. 1 bauxite exporter, said on Sunday it was withdrawing agreements made with a U.S. oil company and a Russian-managed bauxite producer as part of a planned review of minerals contracts.

The withdrawals were announced in a government statement read on state television. They referred to a production-sharing contract with American oil company Hyperdynamics and an annexe of an accord with Compagnie de Bauxite de Kindia (CBK), a local bauxite company run by Russian aluminium giant RUSAL.

They were the first foreign companies in the West African state to be affected by a review of all mining and minerals contracts announced four days ago by the new Guinean government, which was appointed last month to end a violent general strike.

"In the framework of renegotiation of mining contracts, the government has proceeded to withdraw the annexe to the accord with Compagnie de Bauxite de Kindia (CBK), and the agreement with Hyperdynamics Corporation's SCS subsidiary," said the statement, read by a TV presenter.

It added the documents "should be reviewed by the deputies" of the national assembly.

Guinea has one-third of the world's known reserves of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminium, and is the top exporter thanks to the operations of Russia's RUSAL and a joint venture of aluminium heavyweights Alcoa and Alcan.

The announcement of the withdrawals on Sunday did not refer to the Alcoa-Alcan venture.

Hyperdynamics was the only oil company prospecting in Guinea's 64,000 sq km (25,000 square mile) offshore zone. The country produces no oil and so far has no proven viable oil reserves.

In announcing the withdrawal of the Hyperdynamics accord, the government said the fact the U.S. company had been given rights to explore one-third of Guinea's entire offshore acreage did not conform to international practice.

The normal practice was to award smaller blocks, it added.


A Mines Ministry source told Reuters the objections to the deal with RUSAL-run CBK centered on the terms of the company's exploitation of the Kindia bauxite deposits and its use of the railway and port infrastructure related to the project.

The government felt the Guinean state was not benefitting enough from these aspects of the Kindia contract, and the tax and customs regimes would also be reviewed, said the source, who asked not to be named.

Some of the country's mining contracts have come under criticism from opponents of President Lansana Conte, who has ruled since a 1984 coup.

Critics say the rule of the reclusive, diabetic Conte has become increasingly erratic in recent years, during which he has frequently travelled abroad for medical treatment.

The government announced the plan to review contracts on Wednesday after its first cabinet meeting under Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate, who was appointed in late February as a consensus premier to end crippling strikes by Conte's opponents.

The strikes, led by unions who said Conte was no longer fit to rule, triggered violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces in which more than 120 people were killed.

The political crisis was an unprecedented challenge to Conte's rule.

It was accompanied by vocal criticism of widespread corruption and of the terms of some of the mining deals that ensure government income while many Guineans live in dire poverty, most of them surviving on less than a dollar a day.

Kouyate's government marked a complete break with the past and brought in technocrats and economists, including a former International Monetary Fund official who was named as economy and finance minister.

Power Outage Impacts Alcoa Tennessee Operations

Business Wire -April 16, 2007

- Alcoa (NYSE:AA) today announced that the severe electrical storms that hit the southeastern United States this past weekend resulted in a power outage at the company's Tennessee Operations aluminum smelter.

A power substation serving the smelting operations was directly hit by a lightning strike, resulting in a complete power outage at the plant. There were no injuries. Plant employees were able to restore full power to the plant quickly and safely, but one of the two potlines at the plant, representing approximately 107,000 metric tons per year, was not able to be re-started and is currently not operating.

A full re-start plan, timeline for the potline re-start and financial impact is being developed along with an evaluation of impacts on the adjacent can sheet rolling mill which utilizes aluminum from the smelter. However, it is expected that the potline may take several months to re-start.

Russian cos, govt agencies agree to invest $8.1 bln in Boguchansk project

PRIME-TASS (subscription), Russia April 17, 2007

MOSCOW, April 17 (Prime-Tass) -- Several Russian companies and federal agencies have signed an agreement to invest a total of U.S. $8.1 billion in the Boguchansk industrial project in Russia's Krasnoyarsk Region, Russian aluminum major United Company RUSAL said in a press release Tuesday.

UC RUSAL, hydropower company HydroOGK and state-owned Vnesheconombank will invest a total of $6.8 billion in completing the construction of the Boguchansk Hydropower Plant, an aluminum smelter, and a timber-processing complex, UC RUSAL said. The investment figure includes the companies' own funds as well as borrowed funds.

Three federal agencies and the Krasnoyarsk Region's Administrative Council signed the agreement. The governmental bodies will invest $1.3 billion from the federal Investment Fund for the Boguchansk project, including power distribution network development and highway and railway construction, UC RUSAL said.

RUSAL and HydroOGK signed an agreement on the project's joint development in May 2006.

United Company RUSAL was formed in March through a merger of Russian aluminum majors RUSAL and SUAL and Swiss commodities trader Glencore’s alumina assets.

HydroOGK is a subsidiary of Russia’s electric power monopoly UES.

Venezuela Mulls Assuming Stake in Sidor

Houston Chronicle, TX - April 16, 2007, 11:38PM

By RAUL GALLEGOS © 2007 The Associated Press

PORLAMAR, Venezuela — Venezuela's government is considering securing a majority stake in the private steel company Sidor in order to assume control, the country's vice minister for mining said Monday.

The move is part of a broader policy of stronger state control in all areas of mining not already in government hands, Vice Mining Minister Ivan Hernandez told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview on the sidelines of an energy summit.

"We believe that in this case Sidor must have a larger participation by the Venezuelan state. In this, we will have to respect foreign agreements. But the state must have a majority stake," Hernandez said.

"In effect, the transnational companies cannot continue to run the steel business," the vice minister said. "This is a proposal that is part of building a socialist project in Venezuela."

Sidor is majority controlled by Ternium SA, which is a unit of Argentine-Italian conglomerate Techint. The government currently owns 21 percent of Sidor's shares, and workers hold roughly 20 percent, Hernandez said.

Officials at Sidor, Ternium and Techint could not immediately be contacted for comment.

Sidor, formally known as Siderurgica del Orinoco, was privatized shortly before Chavez was first elected in 1998. The leftist president has criticized Sidor for selling the bulk of its steel overseas instead of to local producers.

In 2005, Chavez threatened to seize Sidor if it refused to give priority sales to the local market and pay higher prices for state-supplied iron ore.

"Our position at the vice ministry is that the state takes control of all minerals, and we aren't talking only about iron but also about aluminum," said Hernandez, who added that the discussions at the mining ministry on the issue are still ongoing.

He stopped short of calling this proposal a nationalization. "We call it (getting) full sovereignty over our natural resources, and it has to do with a nationalist policy of President Hugo Chavez."

Hernandez said there is no timeline for such a decision, and noted that Chavez would have to give a green light first for the government to proceed.

Raul Gallegos is a Caracas-based correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires.

Hindalco says has pre-emptive right to buy Alcan stake in JV

Hindustan Times, India - 17:20 IST(17/4/2007)

Aditya Birla group flagship Hindalco Industries on Tuesday said it has the first right to buy the stake held by global aluminium giant Alcan in their joint venture Utkal Alumina, but is yet to take a decision on whether to purchase the Canadian firm's shareholding.

In terms of the shareholders' agreement with Alcan, the company has pre-emptive purchase rights over Alcan's shareholding, Hindalco informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

However, Hindalco is yet to evaluate the terms and conditions and make recommendations to its board regarding this, it added.

Alcan Inc announced on April 13 its plan to sell its stake in Utkal Alumina International.

The Montreal-based firm said it has taken initial steps for selling the stake and hoped to complete the deal in the second quarter of 2007.

Hindalco holds 55 per cent in the joint venture, while Alcan has 45 per cent stake.

The JV was established in 1992 for development of a new bauxite mine and alumina refinery in Orissa. The project is currently in an engineering phase.

If Hindalco buys Alcan's stake in Utkal Alumina it would another big investment by the company which recently acquired a former Alcan group firm Novelis in a six billion dollar transaction.

EU Clears Alcoa, Orkla To Create Soft Alloy Extrusion JV -2-, Netherlands - 19 April 2007

Soft alloy extrusions are alloy profiles that are used in building and car industries.

The new venture combines Orkla's extrusion business with Alcoa's and will be majority owned by Orkla. The companies envisage listing the venture eventually as a separate entity on the stock market.

The commission said its investigation showed the joint venture would continue to face several strong competitors in Europe and would be exposed to increasing competition from outside Europe.

Orkla's extrusion business consists of 18 facilities in 12 countries and approximately 6,000 employees.

Alcoa's soft alloy extrusion business has 22 facilities in eight countries and approximately 6,400 employees.

The joint venture will be a global leader in the aluminum extrusion business, with an estimated annual turnover of $4 billion.

Tajikistan to cancel HPP project with RusAl, UES interested

RIA Novosti, Russia - 20/ 04/ 2007

DUSHANBE, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - Tajikistan may cancel a deal with Russian aluminum giant RusAl to build a hydro power plant in its southeast, a board member of the Russian electricity monopoly, also interested in the project, said Friday.

Andrei Rappoport of the Unified Energy System of Russia (UES) said the project in southeast Tajikistan could be put out for international tender instead of the contract with RusAl.

"During a meeting with the president [of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon], I was told that the country had prepared papers for an international tender to build the Rogun HPP," Rappoport said.

"As RusAl has no operations in Rogun right now, Tajikistan claims that the joint venture is no longer possible," he said.

UES experts, he said, had met with Rakhmon to communicate their own plans for the plant.

UES "is neutral, although we have our own interests there," said Rappoport, indicating they were waiting "for the political will of the Tajik leadership to appear."

The utility is already building the Sangtudin power plant in Tajikistan and had earlier shown interest in the completion of Rogun as well.

"Russia must be part of the project to complete Rogun as it is a strategic facility for Tajikistan and an important source of electricity exports to Russia," he said.

RusAl signed a deal to build the 2,400-MW Rogun HPP on the Amu Darya river in late 2004 at its own expense.

Under the feasibility study made by Germany's Lahmayer, the dam was to be built to a height of 285 m. The Tajik government has since insisted on a height of 335 m, but RusAl said the government should fund the additional work and first coordinate the project with other states in the Amu Darya basin.

The company - after a merger with Russian rival SUAL and alumina assets of the Swiss trader Glencore world's No 1 aluminum group - said they had sent official notification to the Tajik government in October last year, but had received no response.

EU regulators approve aluminum joint venture by Alcoa and Orkla

International Herald Tribune, France - April 20, 2007

BRUSSELS, Belgium: European Union regulators cleared the proposed formation of a joint venture between U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. and Orkla ASA, a Norwegian chemicals, food, media and investment group.

The venture with Orkla's subsidiary Sapa AB will link the companies' aluminum soft alloy extrusion business.

"The transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the (European market) or any substantial part of it," the European Commission said Friday.

Soft alloy extrusions are alloy profiles are used in industries such as construction and car making.

The commission said the venture will have about 30 plants employing over 12,000 people in more than a dozen countries. However, the EU antitrust office said, "the joint venture would continue to face several strong, effective competitors."

REPROCESSING R&D - Canadian government supports new aluminum technology

Canadian Mining Journal, Canada - 22-Apr-2007

QUEBEC - The Industrial Research Assistance Program of the NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF CANADA (NRC-IRAP) is contributing both technical advice and money to EXPLORATION ORBITE of Montreal, as the latter seeks to develop a new technology to extract aluminum from clay tailings. The contribution will cover 47% of the program costs, according to Orbite.

This project, to be carried out by the CENTRE D’ÉTUDES DES PROCÉDÉS CHIMIQUES DU QUÉBEC (CEPROCQ), will develop a new liquid-liquid separation approach to selectively separate aluminum ions. "The objective is to increase the economic and ecological efficiency for the Grande-Vallée alumina clay treatment process," said Richard Boudreault, Orbite’s president.

The Grand Vallée clay lixiviation tailings are found near Murdochville. An estimated 16.5 million m³ of material containing between 23% and 24.4% alumina has been outlined. Further exploration of the property is planned. (

$4bn Saudi investment plan unveiled by firms

Gulf Daily News, Bahrain - Apr 20, 2007

BEIJING: A Chinese state-owned industrial conglomerate and US based trading firm Gerald Metals will invest in a $4 billion aluminium complex next to the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, the Chinese firms and the project's backer said yesterday. China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering & Construction (NFC) and China National Machinery Industry Corporation will build the complex with an annual capacity of 1.6 million tonnes of alumina and 700,000 tonnes of aluminium, the companies said.

They signed an agreement in Beijing on Thursday.

NFC will also be a "substantial investor" in the project, as will Gerald, the companies said.

The timeframe and other details of NFC's investment remain to be worked out, a company official in Beijing said.

Capacity of the privately-owned complex will be doubled "as soon as practically possible," they said.

The complex, in Jizan Economic City in the south of Saudi Arabia, would be developed by a consortium led by the Saudi-based Western Way for Industrial Development Company (WWIDC).

Other investors are Malaysian power and engineering firm MMC Corporation and Saudi construction conglomerate, the Bin Ladin Group.

WWIDC would provide for power and water supply for the complex, the statement said, adding that the cost of the thermal plant would bring the total project cost to over $5 billion.

Bauxite for the plant would be imported, primarily from the Mediterranean, it said.

The investment is among the largest ever made by China in the Middle East, where cheap energy and ample cash from a long oil boom is fueling investment in industrial projects, including smelters.

Alcoa set to double investment in aluminum output in Russia

RIA Novosti, Russia - 18:17 | 23/ 04/ 2007

LONDON, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S.-based aluminum giant Alcoa [NYSE: AA] plans to double investment in its aluminum production in Russia to $500 million, the company's president for Russian operations said Monday.

Bill O'Rourke, who spoke April 23 at the 10th Russian Economic Forum in London, said Alcoa, the world's leading aluminum producer, intended to channel investment into modernizing its facilities in the Rostov Region in southern Russia and the Samara Region in the Volga area.

O'Rourke said Alcoa expects aluminum consumption in Russia's construction and aircraft-making to expand. Russia's current aluminum consumption stands at five to six kilograms (10 to 12 pounds) per person, compared with 40 kilograms (80 pounds) in the United States, he said.

Alcoa, the world's leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, has 123,000 employees in 44 countries.

Aluminum production in Reydarfjördur begins

IcelandReview, Iceland - 04/24/2007

Aluminum was tapped from the first pot in the new Alcoa-Fjardarál aluminum smelter in Reydarfjördur, east Iceland, last weekend. The production process began mid-April.

According to, 40 pots are expected to be put into operation during this first stage and the smelter will be running 336 pots, its full capacity amount, by the end of the year when the construction of the smelter has been completed.

The smelter currently uses 100 megawatts of electricity from the national electricity system, but will be powered by the dam in Kárahnjúkar once electricity production begins there later this year.

Until then, the smelter will not be fully operable. The smelter in Reydarfjördur has the potential to produce 356,000 tons of aluminum per year.

Agreement reached on energy sale to Helguvík

IcelandReview, Iceland - 04/24/2007

Nordurál and Sudurnes Energy Company signed an agreement yesterday on the sale of energy for Nordurál’s planned smelter in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula, south of Reykjavík.

According to the agreement, Sudurnes Energy Company will provide the Nordurál smelter in Helguvík with electricity; it will provide 150 megawatts for the first production stage, which could be used for producing 150,000 tons of aluminum. Fréttabladid reports.

"It is pleasing that this agreement has been reached," said Júlíus Jónsson, director of Sudurnes Energy Company.

"We have very good experience of cooperation with Nordurál and we look at this project as an opportunity for a profitable power harnessing which will strengthen the economy here in south Iceland and enlarge our market territory," Jónsson added.

The group Sól í Sudurnesjum ("Sun in Sudurnes") which is against the planned smelter in Helguvík said they were saddened by the agreement, as reports.

Preparations for the smelter have been in place since 2005, when Reykjanesbaer, Sudurnes Energy Company and Nordurál signed an agreement on cooperating on a feasibility study.

If everything goes according to plan, operations could begin by the end of this year and electricity for aluminum production could be delivered in 2010.

China's 13 alumina producers agree on alumina price

Shanghai. April 24. INTERFAX-CHINA - Thirteen Chinese alumina producers, excluding the Aluminum Corporation China Ltd. (Chalco), reached an agreement at a symposium on Saturday to adjust alumina prices in an attempt to stabilize the alumina market. The current price is set at a minimum of RMB 3,900 ($504.57) per ton.

Ashapura, China firm close to alumina venture

Reuters India, India - Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:59 PM IST

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Indian minerals producer Ashapura Minechem Ltd. is likely to finalise a joint venture within a week with a Chinese firm to set up an alumina plant in Gujarat, a company official said.

The plant, which will have one million tonne annual capacity, will begin production by 2009 and primarily cater to overseas markets, an Ashapura official, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters on the sidelines of a metals conference.

Last month, a top executive of the Qingtongxia aluminium group, the second-largest aluminium producer in China, said it has received Beijing's approval to invest in an alumina project in India.

The Ashapura official said the bauxite supply for the joint venture will come from a new mine in Gujarat which the state government was in the final stage of handing over to the company.

"This mine will be good enough to last us 20-25 years. It would be able to generate 2.5 to 3 million tonnes of bauxite annually," he said.

While Ashapura will contribute both capital and mineral resources, the Chinese partner will invest capital in the project.

The official said Ashapura's total bauxite production is likely to rise to 4.5 to 5 million tonnes in the financial year ending March 2008, from about 3.6 million tonnes this year.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Aluminum producer Alcoa mulls sale of packaging and consumer businesses

Canadian Press: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | 6:29 PM ET

NEW YORK (AP) - Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. said Wednesday it's considering the sale of its packaging and consumer businesses, which account for about 10 per cent of annual revenue, sending its shares higher on the stock market.

The company also said it's exploring strategic options for its electrical and electronics services unit, as well as its automotive castings businesses. Such a move typically includes considering a sale.

Chairman and chief executive Alain Belda said in a statement the packaging and consumer group's results are improving, but they "may provide more value on their own or as part of another company."

The segment generated about US$95 million in operating income in 2006 on $3.2 billion in revenue, and employs about 10,000 workers in 22 countries. The group includes Alcoa's flexible packaging and consumer products units, as well as Closure Systems International and Reynolds Food Packaging.

As for its electrical and electronics services unit and the automotive castings businesses, they together generated $1.6 billion in 2006 revenue and were "marginally profitable," the company said.

The electrical and electronic services unit was formerly known as the AFL wireharness business.

NEW YORK (AP) - Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. said Wednesday it's considering the sale of its packaging and consumer businesses, which account for about 10 per cent of annual revenue, sending its shares higher on the stock market.

The company also said it's exploring strategic options for its electrical and electronics services unit, as well as its automotive castings businesses. Such a move typically includes considering a sale.

Chairman and chief executive Alain Belda said in a statement the packaging and consumer group's results are improving, but they "may provide more value on their own or as part of another company."

The segment generated about US$95 million in operating income in 2006 on $3.2 billion in revenue, and employs about 10,000 workers in 22 countries. The group includes Alcoa's flexible packaging and consumer products units, as well as Closure Systems International and Reynolds Food Packaging.

As for its electrical and electronics services unit and the automotive castings businesses, they together generated $1.6 billion in 2006 revenue and were "marginally profitable," the company said.

The electrical and electronic services unit was formerly known as the AFL wireharness business.

The move would reduce Alcoa's workforce of about 122,000 by about a third.

Canadian metals rival Alcan spun off its rolled products division last year into Novelis (TSX:NVL), which was recently acquired by an Indian industrial company in a friendly multibillion-dollar deal.

In trading on the NYSE, Alcoa shares jumped US$1.81, or 5.3 per cent, to close at $35.76 in trading of more than 25 million shares. Earlier in the session, they rose as high as $36.36, nearing their 52-week high of $36.96 set in May.

Shares in Montreal-based rival Alcan Inc. (TSX:AL), meanwhile, jumped $2.45 or 3.8 per cent to close at C$66.25 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Canadian company reported Tuesday record net earnings of US$591 million for the first quarter, up from $453 million a year ago.

© The Canadian Press, 2007

NALCO achieves highest-ever turnover

Hindustan Times, India : 20:50 IST(25/4/2007)

Bhubaneswar, April 25, 2007

The state-run National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO) on Wednesday said that it had achieved its highest ever turnover of Rs 65.16 billion in 2006-07, recording an increase of 22.4 per cent over the previous year's Rs 53.24 bn.

NALCO, which is the largest manufacturer and exporter of alumina and aluminium and the flagship public sector undertaking of the ministry of mines, said after taking record of its unaudited financial results at the company's board meeting in Bhubaneswar.

The company has also reported a 52.39 per cent jump in net profits - Rs 23.8 billion during the financial year 2006-07, based on unaudited results, from Rs 15.62 billion in 2005-06.

NALCO achieved the highest-ever metal sale of 3,56,616 tonnes in the financial year 2006-07. This represents an increase of 3.4 per cent against the target of 345,000 tonnes. The previous best sale was 353,841 tonnes in 2005-06.

The company's Aluminium Smelter too achieved 104 percent capacity utilisation during the year. The margins have increased from 57 per cent to 61 per cent this financial year, the release said.

Similarly, the company's 960 MW captive power plant at Angul near the Smelter Plant has achieved the highest-ever power generation of 5,968 million units, the previous best being 5,679 million units in 2005-06.

The generation is also higher than the memorandum of understanding (MoU) target of 5,714 million units. Besides, this two decades old coal-fired NALCO plant achieved the highest plant load factor (PLF) of 79.3 percent, surpassing the record of 78.85 per cent PLF achieved in 1993-94, said the release

NALCO has been pursuing plans of continuous expansion of production capacity to strengthen its business and increase in market share. Soon after the completion of the 1st phase expansion, the company has now launched its 2nd phase expansion involving a fresh investment of Rs 51 billion.

According to the release, the present capacity of Bauxite Mines will go up from 4.8 million tonnes to 6.3 million tonnes, Alumina Refinery from 1.57 million tonnes to 2.1 million tonnes, Aluminium Smelter from 345,000 tonnes to 460,000 tonnes per year and Captive Power Plant from 960 MW to 1,200 MW.

As part of its business development strategy, the company is actively exploring the possibilities of setting up joint venture projects abroad for making aluminium based on its surplus alumina to the tune of 1.2 million tonnes - expected to be available once the 2nd phase expansion is complete.

Gilbertson’s retreat from Moscow – more hot than cold

Mineweb, South Africa - Wednesday , 25 Apr 2007

The big South African prepares resourceful counterattack.

Author: John Helmer


Brian Gilbertson was the most important international executive ever to work for a Russian corporation, when he moved to Moscow in August 2004, signing on as president of Siberian Ural Aluminium (SUAL), a mining and metals company. He still is, but that's because no-one of comparable importance has followed him, either on the smooth road into Moscow, or on the bumpy one out.

The Gilbertson appointment, accompanied by published hints of a 50 million-sterling bonus, was also Victor Vekselberg's biggest catch, in his attempt to take his second-string private company to a public listing on the London Stock Exchange. Vekselberg is one of Russia's richest men; and also one of those to be found on the defendants' list in court cases alleging he had lifted someone else's assets. At the end of March, Gilbertson parted company with Vekselberg.

Behind Gilbertson's back, Vekselberg told Russians he was more than unhappy with the big South African. For one thing, Gilbertson had proved unable to generate market support for the SUAL float on which Vekselberg had been counting. Never mind that it had been President Vladimir Putin himself, who told Vekselberg last September that Vekselberg would not be allowed to take his company public by itself. Instead, Vekselberg has had to accept a 23% stake in a merger with his rival Oleg Deripaska's Russian Aluminium (Rusal). Initially, Gilbertson was slated to be the representative of that stake as non-executive chairman of the new company. Gilbertson also reportedly tried winning Deripaska over with the prospect of a takeover bid for Anglo American.

But when the Kremlin, Deripaska, and Vekselberg agreed among themselves that the chairman of the new Rusal had to be Russian, and Vekselberg himself took the seat, Gilbertson had nothing left to do in Moscow, but to claim his bonus. Vekselberg said no. Unlike several of his argumentative predecessors in the Russian aluminium business, who have ended up in hiding, in prison, or in a body bag, Gilbertson was allowed to leave in one piece.

Apparently, for Vekselberg will not corroborate the details, and Gilbertson is still biding his time before spilling the beans, the bonus was just one of several arguments between them. Another - which Vekselberg's subordinates claim to be still in negotiation with Gilbertson - concerned Gilbertson's new global investment vehicle, Pallinghurst Resources (PR). Registered on a Caribbean island, and headquartered in London, PR has already opened a cash and scrip bid to take over the West Australian multi-mineral miner, Consolidated Minerals (ConsMin). In his opening offer, Gilbertson said that Pallinghurst is backed by a billion dollars of "equity commitments". Vekselberg is now claiming to his associates that not a penny of that will be his.

A third argument, which Gilbertson's son Sean has corroborated, is over what was intended to be a profitable development of Faberge, the trademark of the royal Russian jeweller a century ago. This was put on sale last year by Unilever for $40 million. Alrosa said it wasn't worth more than $5 million. Vekselberg had in mind to buy cheap, and resell to Alrosa, cutting others into the deal proceeds, if he succeeded. But Pallinghurst jumped in first, buying Faberge for a price that has queered Vekselberg's scheme.

When he took over at SUAL, Gilbertson conceded there was much he didn't know about how Vekselberg and his associates had put together the bauxite mines, alumina refineries, and aluminium smelters which had become SUAL's assets. Gilbertson appointed his own lawyer to investigate whether any wrong had been done, especially in the case of the Volgograd Aluminium Plant, an asset which was consolidated on to SUAL's balance-sheet several months after Gilbertson took charge - and legal responsibility. For a dispossessed shareholder in that smelter had already won Russian court rulings supporting his claim to have been robbed. The Volgograd claim has since been reviewed by international lawyers, and as Vekselberg moved towards a London listing, so has the prospective jurisdiction for a hearing on the allegations.

In more promising days, it was Gilbertson who introduced Vekselberg in South Africa, and encouraged him to make promises of black empowerment cash, and a billion dollars of investment besides. Those promises landed Vekselberg a warm seat on President Thabo Mbeki's international investment advisory council. Vekselberg's wife decided that she wanted to buy the Cape wine farm and hostelry, Vrede en Lust, while her husband's involvement in funding ANC front companies has been under hot investigation for several months.

Alcan plans to meet aluminum demand

The Age, Australia - April 27, 2007 - 8:04AM

Alcan said on Thursday that it expects to tap surging demand for aluminum in the developing world with a slate of current and undisclosed expansion projects.

Alcan, the world's second-largest maker of primary aluminum, already has several big construction and expansion projects under way that will boost its annual smelter production capacity by some 1 million tonnes, or 30 per cent.

"There are a number of other projects that we are pursuing that are not yet public - stay tuned," Dick Evans, president and chief executive, told Alcan's annual meeting in Montreal.

Evans said the developing world, especially China, will account for the bulk of growth in demand.

China's share of global aluminum production increased to more than 28 per cent last year from just 2 per cent in 1980, Evans said in a speech to shareholders.

By contrast, the US share dropped to 7 per cent from 30 per cent, while Europe fell to 12 per cent from 22 per cent.

China's share of global aluminum consumption surged to 25 per cent last year - topping the United States at 22 per cent - from only 4 per cent in 1980.

"The implications for growth in demand as China's economy continues to develop are clearly enormous. It could more than triple," Evans said.

In primary aluminum, Alcan has three key projects under way, including a 350,000 tonne smelter at Sohar in Oman that, at 1.2 kilometres, will be the world's longest aluminum smelting potline. Alcan has a 20 per cent share of the smelter, which is expected to begin production in mid-2008.

In Jonquiere, Quebec, the region where Alcan has the bulk of its Canadian smelting capacity, a $US550 million ($A659.2 million) pilot project using the latest technology is in progress.

The pilot plant is slated to produce 60,000 tonnes of aluminum annually, but the overall project will burgeon to $US1.8 billion ($A2.16 billion) and 450,000 tonnes of new capacity in the region over 10 years.

On Thursday, Alcan unveiled a $US130 million ($A155.81 million) project to build a high-efficiency turbine at its Shipshaw power plant in the region. Much of the Quebec smelting capacity is supported by the company's own power generating plants.

In South Africa, Alcan is moving ahead with a plan to build a 720,000-tonne smelter. It has a long-term power agreement for the Coega plant there and is talks with prospective partners for the project.

Two major projects are stalled: the $US1.8 billion ($A2.16 billion) expansion of the Kitimat smelter in British Columbia, and a plan to add capacity to its ISAL smelter in Iceland.

Alcan expects the Kitimat project to get back on track with a new agreement in the works on surplus power sales from its generating facility to BC Hydro.

Evans said Alcan was reviewing its options for ISAL after a local community narrowly rejected the project in a referendum.

"The project is delayed until we feel that we have the needed community support," he said.

Alcan shares fell 22 Canadian cents to C$66.03 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and were down 57 cents at $US58.91 on the New York Stock Exchange.

© 2007 Reuters

Alcan boss calls for better climate-change plan

National Post, Canada - Thursday, April 26, 2007

Lynn Moore, CanWest News Service

MONTREAL — Governments must resist quick-fix solutions to the climate-change crisis that are of little long-term benefit but have the tempting advantage of being "politically saleable," Alcan Inc.'s chief executive officer said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after the aluminum producer's annual meeting, Dick Evans "respectfully declined to critique" the Harper government's climate-change strategy, officially unveiled later in the day.

But Evans — who in his first full year at the helm of the world's second largest aluminum producer took it to record-breaking profits — couldn't resist taking a swipe in the government's general direction.

I can't think of any government in the world that has done enough and [acted] in a constructive way to get at long-term solutions [on climate change]," Evans said.

Along with the escalating "alertness" to the consequences of climate change in North America, "there is some risk actually of somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction, of trying to come up with quick fixes that are politically saleable as opposed to longer-term structural solutions," he said.

Key among essential solutions is an emissions-trading system with "clear consistent rules" to be applied across national boundaries, Evans said.

He is to become the first CEO of a Canadian-based company on the executive board of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.

Alcan announced Thursday its membership in the outfit known as CAP.

The expanding coalition of large corporations and environmental groups is now lobbying Washington for legislation that would impose hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions and set up a market-based trading system that would allow corporations to manage their emissions targets by buying or selling credits on an open market.

The plan unveiled Thursday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t impose hard caps on emissions, abandoned the Kyoto pact that the previous Liberal government ratified in 2002, and required Canada to cut greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent from 1990 levels by 2012.

"One of the real problems with emissions trading today is that there is no internationally accepted standard as to what qualifies as greenhouse gas credits. This is the single biggest problem," said Evans, who likened the situation to having non-convertible national currencies.

In 2006, Alcan's operating cashflow was the best in the company's history at more than US$3-billion. On Tuesday, the company reported a 30% jump in first-quarter earnings to a record $591-million.

Strong metal prices and growing markets for its products were instrumental in the company’s performance, Evans said.

Alcan says deal with B.C. for planned $2-billion Kitimat smelter very close, Canada April 26, 2007 - 6:27 p.m.

Peter Rakobowchuk

MONTREAL (CP) - Alcan Inc. (TSX:AL) says it is close to a deal with the B.C. government and B.C. Hydro which will allow the aluminum producer to proceed with a $2-billion smelter in Kitimat.

Alcan and the others "are very close to reaching an agreement," Michel Jacques, president of Alcan's primary metal group, said Thursday. He noted there was already a provision in Alcan's agreement with the province which allowed energy to be sold to the provincial utility from Alcan's existing facility in Northwestern B.C.

"We're not asking for anything new. . .this is our intent to continue operating in Kitimat with the same agreement.

"The only difference is that we would like to do so with a modern smelter," he added.

There have been discussions with officials of the District of Kitimat (DOK) which opposed Alcan's proposal to sell power from its Kemano hydroelectric project to the B.C. Hydro grid.

"The people that decide on policies, how the energy will be used, produced, distributed and priced in B.C. is not the DOK, it's the government of B.C.," Jacques added.

He said a large portion of the population "strongly supported" the project and it was Alcan's "firm intention to build a new smelter to replace a facility that is now over 50 years old."

The Kitimat modernization also includes a reduction of the workforce.

Alcan has been steadily reducing its workforce in Kitimat, currently at 1,550, down from 2,500. The upgrade would increase production but cull the employee count further to 1,000.

President Dick Evans also told the company's annual meeting aluminum supply will likely slightly exceed demand for the metal in 2007, but inventory levels are expected to remain near historical lows.

"Aluminum, although prices were up significantly, improved its competitive position compared to other metals, especially copper, creating good opportunities for aluminum substitution," Evans said.

"While prices are high by historic standards, they are likely to remain so longer, as the entire world cost curve has clearly shifted upwards significantly."

A table released by Alcan indicated global demand was expected to grow by about nine per cent in 2007, an increase of about 3.1 million tonnes.

It showed that supply of primary aluminum will increase by 10 per cent.

Evans also announced Alcan will join the United States Climate Action Partnership that is calling on the U.S. Government to quickly enact strong national legislation to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The USCAP is a coalition of leading companies and NGOs.

Evans later told reporters he "couldn't think of any government in the world that has done enough in a constructive way to get at long-term solutions."

Montreal-based Alcan has 68,000 employees in 61 countries, working in bauxite mining, alumina processing, primary metal smelting, power generation and aluminium fabrication.

The company reported Tuesday a 30 per cent increase in first-quarter profit to US$591 million from US$453 million a year ago.

Its shares fell 22 cents to close at $66.03 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Tajikistan to break US$1 billion hydro plant contract with Russian company

International Herald Tribune, France -: April 26, 2007

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: Tajikistan will break a US$1 billion (€735 million) contract with Russian aluminum giant OAO Rusal for a hydroelectric plant, after continuing problems with the project, a top Tajik energy official said Thursday.

The Rogun dam, crucial for the impoverished Central Asian nation, has been stalled from the outset by disputes between the government and Rusal. In January, the Tajik government accused the company of failing to fulfill the contract signed in 2004.

Sharifkhon Samiyev, head of the Tajik national energy company, said the government now intends to create an international consortium to complete the project. Russian companies, except Rusal, would be welcome to join, he added.

"There is a (government) decision to bar Rusal from working in the country," Samiyev said.

But, Rusal's office in Tajikistan said the company remained committed to the dam.

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"We don't know of any changes from the Russian side in relation to our participation in this project," a company statement said.

Tajikistan has long sought an investor to complete the dam on the Vakhsh River, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital, Dushanbe. Construction was interrupted by the 1992-97 civil war.

The country's fast-flowing mountain rivers have a potential hydropower capacity of 527 billion kilowatt hours a year, among the largest in the world, according to international experts. Energy sales would bring a substantial boon to the former Soviet republic, racked by rampant unemployment and problems caused by increasing amounts of drugs being smuggled from neighboring Afghanistan.

The plant's completion would substantially increase sales of electricity to neighboring China, as well as to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Russia's RAO Unified Energy Systems is involved in a US$480 million (€363 million) project to complete another major hydroelectric plant in the country.

Alcoa sees opportunity to add aluminum to U.S. cars

KPLC-TV, LA 27-Apr-2007

By Carole Vaporean

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Aluminum makers see an automotive business opportunity in the push to cut carbon emissions, an Alcoa executive said this week.

As U.S. automakers seek to make their vehicles lighter and more efficient, that opens the door for aluminum makers to add more of their metal to cars.

"Lightweighting and (environmental) sustainability are firmly linked," said Misha Riveros-Jacobson, president of Alcoa Inc.'s (AA.N) auto and truck structures.

"The only way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions in vehicles is to get better fuel economy," she said.

"We feel this definitely provides new opportunities for lightweight materials and for aluminum to get in the game to get creative in innovating and designing for fuel-efficiency," Riveros-Jacobson told participants at the Aluminum Association's spring meeting.

Last year, aluminum surpassed iron as second most-used material in a vehicle, behind steel. Over the last 30 years, aluminum increased its share of metal content in North American autos from 80 lbs (36 kg) in 1973 to 327 lbs (147 kg) last year.

Riveros-Jacobson pointed to a recent study that projected light-vehicle weight will come down 2 percent from just above 4,100 lbs (1,845 kg) in 2005 to about 4,000 lbs (1,800 kg) in 2015.

In the same period, she said the study, conducted by auto industry research firm Ducker Worldwide, estimated that 12 percent or 480 lbs (216 kg) of every average vehicle will go through a mix change in order to meet the stricter emissions standards.

"What that means is that over the next eight to 10 years, about 480 lbs inside of every average vehicle will be up for grabs," she told conferees in Nashville.

The near 500 lbs in question is currently composed of iron, mild steel, and other metals that will be in a race with aluminum, high-strength steel, magnesium, and plastics for a portion of the share.

"We're going to see some very innovative and creative approaches in trying to capture that 480 lbs. That's huge. We did the math and that's 7,500 billion lbs, if you take just the vehicles built in North America," Riveros-Jacobson said.

The aluminum industry's biggest opportunity, she said, will be in working with the automakers on both vehicle design and fabrication and assembly design.

"You can do some creative things in terms of design for fabrication and assembly that allow you to reduce parts overall in your system," she said.

Some judicious engineering and assembly design using aluminum can take 40 to 50 percent of the weight out of a traditionally designed mild steel part.

She told Reuters on the sidelines that Alcoa's own research and development team works closely with automakers' design teams to devise ways to use aluminum to meet their needs while lowering the weight in the car.

"If the aluminum industry continues to make progress in material technology, innovation and design for performance," the Alcoa president said, "some researchers estimate that it is technically possible for aluminum in automotive applications to be carbon-neutral by 2017."

By 2010, when fuel-economy restrictions on vehicles take effect in many countries like China, Japan and India, weight reduction in those countries' autos will also be necessary.

Europe has already implemented carbon emission targets but will continue to tighten those restrictions by 2010.

Iceland Honors Bechtel for Environmental Excellence

SYS-CON Media, NJ - Apr. 27, 2007 03:57 PM

Aluminum Smelter Project Praised for Creating 'A New Work Culture' for the Country

SAN FRANCISCO, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A Bechtel team building a new aluminum smelter on the remote eastern coast of Iceland has won the nation's highest environmental award.

The Shell Award, given annually, honors companies that contribute to environmental protection and that motivate other companies to focus on the environment. The award was presented to Bechtel at a ceremony in Reykjavik.

"Everyone familiar with Bechtel's vision on environmental affairs believes that it has led to a new work culture in Iceland," Minister of Environment Jonina Bjartmarz said in announcing the award.

Bechtel and its customer, Alcoa, have placed a heavy emphasis on environmental protection in the construction of the Fjaroaal smelter, which is scheduled for completion later this year. The project has been designed for minimal environmental impact specifically in waste disposal. No process water is discharged into the nearby fjord. Paper, glass, metals, timber, plastic, and other byproducts are recycled or reused, and biodegradable waste is safely decomposed.

"Bechtel has become an influential role model for other construction companies and contractors in Iceland regarding environmental protection," said Bjartmarz. "Hopefully, this award will underscore the level of success Bechtel has reached and other contractors can reach as well, if they adopt the work plan this company has shown us."

"Environmental sensitivity is a growing mandate for our industry worldwide," said Bechtel Project Manager Joe Wahba. "It is thus especially gratifying that the Fjaroaal project has been awarded this prize."

The new smelter, which will have an annual capacity of 346,000 metric tons, is the first project in Iceland for Bechtel. The company, a global leader in engineering and construction, has worked on some of the world's largest and complex projects for more than a century. Bechtel currently has projects in nearly 50 countries, including several aluminum smelters.

Bechtel Corporation

CONTACT: Jonathan Marshall, Media Relations Manager of Bechtel

Corporation, +1-415-768-2292, or

Web site:

Aluminium giant to set up $4.5bn smelter in Qatar

Gulf Daily News, Bahrain - Saturday 28th April 2007

LONDON: Norsk Hydro, the world's third largest integrated aluminium producer, is looking to expand into the Middle East to trim its power costs, chief executive Eivind Reiten said yesterday."All our energies are focusing on expansion in the Middle East," he said.

Norsk Hydro is concentrating on primary aluminium, with plans for a $4.5 billion (BD1.7bn) investment in a 585,000-tonne smelter in Qatar.

It made moves to divest its oil business late last year via a proposed merger with energy group Statoil, which is currently awaiting approval.

"We plan to expand this smelter further and double production in Qatar... to 1.2 million by 2012," Reiten said, adding the expansion plan for phase two had still to be agreed with its Qatari partner.

Hydro has a 50 per cent share in the Qatalum smelter, expected to start producing in 2009/10, and the rest is held by state-run Qatar Petroleum, which will supply the smelter with natural gas.

"The availability of cheap energy will determine future aluminium capacity over the next 20 to 30 years," Reiten said.

Energy accounts for some 40pc of aluminium's total production cost.

The firm was also looking at Australia and a hydro-powered smelter in Angola with an annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes.

High energy costs increased the value of recycled metal, Reiten said, adding that the firm's remelting capacity was expected to grow.

Aluminium made from scrap uses 95pc less energy than metal produced from bauxite ore.

A recent Citigroup report suggested Europe's only listed pure aluminium player could be a potential take-over target, but Reiten said the firm was not for sale.

"Instead we ourselves are looking at future targets," he said, without giving any details.

Reiten said growth in Norsk Hydro's products division was driven by strong demand, particularly from Europe, for rolled and extruded aluminium, with expected production in 2007 of 1m tonnes and 600,000 tonnes respectively.

Hydro aims to produce 1.1-1.2m tonnes of aluminium from scrap in 2007 and 1.7m tonnes of primary aluminium, which would rise to 2m in 2010.

Alumina output was set at 2.1m this year.

Growth in demand for aluminium was seen sluggish in the US, but Chinese consumption was seen rising at around 7-8pc annually.

Reiten said world aluminium demand would grow by around 4-5pc this year and expected aluminium futures prices to hold around $2,200-2,800 a tonne over the next six to 12 months.

BHP Billiton buys 33% stake in Guinea project

Mining Journal Online, UK - 27 Apr, 2007

The project has mineral resource containing 233 Mt of bauxite

BHP Billiton Ltd, the world`s biggest mining company, bought a third of Global Alumina Corp`s project in Guinea for US$140 million, gaining an access to the nation that owns the world`s largest bauxite reserves.

The Sangaredi project includes an alumina refinery with an annual capacity for 3 Mt and a bauxite mine that can produce 9 Mt/y, Melbourne-based BHP Billiton said on Friday in a statement.

The deadline for the joint-venture agreement had been extended five times.

"Further exploration work is under way to increase the resource size," BHP Billiton said in the statement.

The project has mineral resource containing 233 Mt of bauxite.

The alumina price has more than doubled in the past five years, as China, the world`s largest aluminium producer, expanded metal production.

BHP Billiton will appoint chief executive and financial officers for the venture.

Global alumina will hold a stake equal to BHP Billiton`s, Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd, a 25% stake, and Mubadala Development Company PJSC 9.3%.

BHP Billiton already has an interest in three existing alumina refineries and three bauxite mines, all are in Australia, Brazil and Suriname.

Guinea, a western African nation, has the world`s largest bauxite reserve, followed by Australia and Jamaica, according to the US Geological Survey 2007 report. (April 27 Bloomberg)

Bauxite and Alumina Industry Impacting Positively on Economy

Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service, Jamaica - Friday, April 27, 2007


As the country's third highest earner of foreign exchange, with approximately US$1 billion in annual gross earnings, the bauxite and alumina industry continues to be a vital contributor to the Jamaican economy.

According to Chairman of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), Dr. Carlton Davis, mining of the precious resource is the single largest non-service activity in the country.

He notes that remittances account for US$1.6 billion, while tourism revenues amount to US$1.4 billion per year.

"These three represent the bulk of the foreign exchange earnings for the country, so from the point of view of economic activity, especially in rural Jamaica, where the bauxite operations are located, there is employment of persons. Then there are the economic spin-offs, such as the boom one sees in Mandeville, Santa Cruz, and Junction, which are reflective largely of the activities of the bauxite sector," he points out.

The industry accounted for 15 million tonnes of bauxite last year, which represents the highest level in more than 30 years. "So there is no question as to its importance in our economic landscape, and it has been so for many years. It enables us to pay for the goods and services that we buy from abroad - it is a significant factor," Dr. Davis tells JIS News.

He adds that when compared with the two top gross foreign exchange earners, and the sugar industry, which accounts for US$100 million, the significance of bauxite is clear.

"Any significant fall-out would have a serious effect on our foreign exchange earnings and the consequences for our exchange rate, and inflation. So that is why, despite some criticisms that have been coming up (in the media) in recent times, one has to seek to manage the industry to minimize adverse environmental impact, but at the same time, it is absolutely necessary for economic survival for many years to come," the Chairman says.

Dr. Davis, who is also Cabinet Secretary, comments on the recent discussions and concerns regarding what some environmental groups and stakeholders have claimed are the Government's plans to allow mining activities to take place in the Cockpit Country.

"I find it extraordinary that this could have become such an issue, when the operations which were in focus will not be mining for the next 20 to 25 years. JAMALCO is going to be mining in South and North Manchester over the next 20-25 years and our mining plans are based on that. It has never been our policy, based on practice, to mine the Cockpit Country," he stresses.

He reiterates that it was only a special exclusive prospecting licence that was granted to JAMALCO. "There is no harm in drilling to check what is there. As a matter of fact, a lot of good information can be obtained, but what gives you a right to mine is a mining lease, and nothing of the sort was granted," he states.

Dr. Davis accedes that there is need for a proper management system for the Cockpit Country to ensure that it is indeed protected.

The Chairman asserts that there is no point in creating a resistance to bauxite mining and eventually destroying the industry, without examining the long-term consequences.

"Think of where the US$1 billion is going to come from, because at the end of the day, the poor people in Jamaica would be hurt, because if that amount of earning falls out of our economy.the exchange rate would be under pressure. So, it is not enough to just seek to close down the bauxite industry on spurious grounds, but you have to do some hard thinking as to how these earnings would be replaced," he continues.

Of the just over one million hectares of land area in Jamaica, since 1952 only about 7,400 hectares, or less than 0.75 per cent has been disturbed for bauxite mining.

"We have restored a little over 4,000 hectares.the important thing is to try to accelerate the process of restoration, so that the lands can be put to use,"

Dr. Davis says.

"We are putting a lot of emphasis on making the mined-out lands as productive as possible in vegetables, and in cattle. There are places that you will pass and see cattle, especially in St. Ann, and you would not believe it, but they are mined out lands," he tells JIS News.

This year will see increased efforts by the industry in the rehabilitation of mined-out lands and productive use of these lands, based on the research efforts the JBI has been undertaking over a number of years.

The Chairman says that the National Housing Trust is having difficulty locating lands to construct houses, "so one of the things we have been working on with them, is the availability of mined out lands for housing."

Bauxite reserves are another concern in relation to the sustainability of the industry. "It all depends on what people are prepared to allow (to be) mined. On the basis of the current production level, we have as much as 50 years, but if people put up pressure and the society allows them to get away with it, then it means you would be reducing those reserves. But suffice to say, we have enough reserves left to support an economic investment for the period which people would expect their reasonable returns," Dr. Davis says.

Mining is currently taking place in the parishes of Manchester, St. Elizabeth, St. Ann, Clarendon, and a part of St. Catherine. Most of the reserves are on the north of the island, largely in Trelawny and St. Ann.

"There are areas of North St. Catherine that are unmined and a lot of Trelawny, with the Cockpit Country representing the western border. Revere, which is a company that operated in Jamaica between the late 1960s and early 1970s left a lot of reserves in St. Elizabeth and those would also be taken up. So we have enough reserves to support an economic investment and people usually use figures from 30 to 40 years for their investment," Dr. Davis informs.

Every country faces the problem of balancing some amount of discomfort with an activity like mining and the economic good which comes from it, the Cabinet Secretary notes.

"It's all a matter of balance. I believe that poverty has a much greater adverse impact on the environment than economic activities like mining and tourism. A country has to think about how to balance the situation in which you can get economic development, and by that, you are in a better position to preserve your environment, and those are some of the issues that people need to talk about," he tells JIS News.

According to information provided by the JBI, most of the US$1 billion gross earnings accruing to the industry last year was attributable to alumina refining.

This is the first time since 1974 that total bauxite production (crude bauxite produced for export and bauxite refined locally into alumina) has reached the

15-million tonne mark, and this was achieved despite operational challenges and labour disputes, which disrupted production during the year.

Bauxite produced for export increased by 12.6 per cent to 4.6 million dry metric tonnes, following an injection of additional capital to upgrade mining equipment and improve internal business processes at St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Limited. In the meantime, alumina production edged upward by just under one per cent to 4.1 million tonnes.

Meanwhile, the JBI reports that in the first quarter of 2007, production for the bauxite/alumina sector continued its positive trend with year-to-date figures showing that total production of bauxite amounted to 3.7 million tonnes, a 1.4 per cent increase over the amount produced in the similar period last year. Alumina, which account for more than 90 per cent of export earnings from the sector, reached one million tonnes, 0.6 per cent above the level produced for the similar period last year.

The outlook for production in 2007 is encouraging. In particular, the early works phase of the JAMALCO expansion is due to deliver a further 150,000 tonnes of alumina. With all other significant variables remaining unchanged, the forecast is for production to climb to just over 4.2 million tonnes of alumina and 5.1 million tonnes of crude bauxite, yielding a total bauxite production level of roughly 16 million tonnes.

The projection is for gross earnings to inch upward to somewhere in the order of US$1.3 billion.

Four bauxite and alumina companies are operating in the country, including JAMALCO in Clarendon; ALPART in St. Elizabeth; Windalco in Manchester; and St. Ann Jamaica Bauxite Limited.

The JBI was established in 1976 as an arm of the Jamaica National Investment Company (now the National Investment Bank of Jamaica), to deal mainly with the sovereign aspects of the Government's participation in the bauxite and alumina industry.

The Institute's functions include: monitoring and studying the aluminium industry; providing technical advice; undertaking research and development activities; assessing and ensuring rationalisation in the use of Jamaica's bauxite reserves and (bauxite) land; and monitoring and making recommendations on pollution control and other environmental concerns in the industry.

Norsk Hydro to build $4.5b smelter in Qatar

Middle East North Africa Financial Network, Jordan - 29/04/2007

(MENAFN) Reuters reported that Oslo-based Norsk Hydro, the world's third largest integrated aluminum producer, is planning to set up a $4.5 billion aluminum smelter in Qatar, Gulf Daily News reported.

The new smelter, which will have a production capacity of 585,000-tons, will be 50 percent owned by Qatar petroleum. The project is expected to start production by the end of 2009.

The firm is also planning to boost its investments in Australia as well as building a hydro-powered smelter in Angola with an annual capacity of 600,000 tons.

Alcoa launches emissions capture technology

ABC Online, Australia - Sunday, 29 April 2007.

Aluminium producer Alcoa is launching technology today that will capture greenhouse gases emitted from its refinery in Kwinana in Western Australia.

Managing director Wayne Osborn says the process will prevent 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) being released into the atmosphere each year, which is equivalent to taking more than 17,500 cars off the road.

He says researchers have found a way of capturing carbon dioxide by using a by-product of the aluminium making process.

"We use waste carbon dioxide and mix it with our bauxite residue, which does two things, it locks up the carbon dioxide so it provides a significant greenhouse benefit and it also reduces the alkalinity of the residue itself, which provides another environmental benefit," he said.

Mr Osborn says the company plans to use the technology across its operations in Australia and world wide.

BHP Billiton secures stake in Guinean project, Australia - 30/04/2007

By: Nicholas Grove

BHP Billiton Limited (BHP) has acquired a 33.3% interest in the Toronto-based Global Alumina’s Sangaredi Refinery Project in the West African country of Guinea for US$140 million. The world’s biggest miner said the project comprises the design, construction and operation of a 3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) alumina refinery, 9Mtpa bauxite mine and associated infrastructure.

The company said a mining concession covering 690 square kilometres has been secured and a mineral resource of 233 million tonnes bauxite has been reported.

BHP said this is considered sufficient to support the development, but further exploration work is underway to increase the resource size.

The proposed refinery site is approximately 100 kilometres inland from the town of Kamsar and has the benefit of access to existing rail infrastructure linking it to the Port of Kamsar, where dedicated facilities are already under construction, the company added.

BHP Billiton Aluminium president Graeme Hunt said this project provides the joint venture partners with access to a long life, low cost resource base and represents an opportunity for BHP to continue to grow its business in a value accretive manner.

"In view of BHP Billiton’s other exploration interests in Guinea, this project also offers us valuable experience of operating in this first tier minerals province," he said in a press statement.

As part of the agreement, BHP Billiton said it will appoint the chief executive officer and chief financial officer of the joint venture and will enter into a services agreement with the joint venture for the development, construction and operation of the project.

Global Alumina will now hold a 33.3% equity interest in the Sangaredi Refinery Project, with Dubai Aluminium Company Limited and Mubadala Development Company holding 25% and 8.3% respectively.

Trinidad activists vow to block building of smelter plant, IL - Apr 30, 2007, 06:17 pm

By Peter Ischyrion

History of Trinidad and Tobago (

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (IPS/GIN)—Activists have recently pledged to challenge the legality of their government’s decision to allow the construction of an aluminum smelter plant in Trinidad.

"We have been betrayed by the EMA [Environmental Management Authority]... we were sold out for 30 pieces of aluminum," said Norris Deonarine, head of the National Foodcrop Farmers Association, who told reporters that a letter had been sent to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez since his country is joint owner of the proposed plant.

Dr. Peter Vine, a physicist and university lecturer, insists that the pollution models used by the EMA were highly speculative and not based on reality.

The plant, to be located at the Union Industrial estate south of here, would process 125,000 metric tons of aluminum per year. It would be built using Chinese technology, but Dr. Vine said that the health records of workers at existing smelters in China have still not been made available.

"It is amazing that the government would go ahead with this smelter, considering these facts and criticisms," he said.

The U.S. firm Alcoa is also considering building a $1.5-billion plant here. Energy Minister Lenny Saith said discussions are ongoing about an alternative site, since the cabinet decided against the first choice.

"Alcoa has continued to indicate an interest in Trinidad and Tobago," Minister Saith said, even as the U.S. company acknowledged that the decision to grant a certificate of environmental clearance to Alutrint would not automatically mean a green light for its own project.

"I think all projects have to be judged on their own environmental merit. I don’t think it is a case of a precedent being set," said Wade Hughes, director of Alcoa Trinidad and Tobago.

At a recent late evening news conference, EMA officials said the agency was giving the majority state-owned Alutrint project—Venezuela is the other partner—the go-ahead after determining that the plant would meet all the "environmental standards associated with operating an aluminum smelter."

"The task the EMA will now face, as we move forward with this application, is one of monitoring and understanding what the baseline conditions are, so we can examine any shifts in terms of the human health of the area or impacts on vegetation and wildlife," EMA managing director Dave McIntosh said.

Anti-smelter campaigners were unimpressed. Julien Kenny, an environmentalist and former independent legislator, said the Alutrint plant might violate two local laws.

According to Mr. Kenny, while public consultations on the smelter’s approval had been held under the EMA Act, the Manning government had bypassed town and country planning laws that require compliance with the national development plan.

"What is being done at Union Estate now is contrary to the plan which says the land is reserved for forest and agriculture," he said.

Former attorney-general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, who now heads the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Rights Association, said he intends to challenge the legality of the EMA decision.

Attorney-general Maharaj contends that the decision to grant the CEC to Alutrint was illegal because the EMA applied improper water- and air-pollution standards that had not been approved in accordance with the existing EMA legislation, which provides for public comment on standards before being approved by the parliament.

"This right of the citizen to participate was not followed," his group said, referring to a London-based Privy Council ruling involving a local environmental group that held "neither the government nor EMA has power to dispense with citizens’ right of consultation."

Coincidentally, a 2004-2005 report by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament that was presented to the Senate recently also raised questions about the plant at Union Estate.

The report examined whether the state-owned National Gas Company had followed proper procedure when it sought EMA approval to clear the land. It noted that a CEC had been granted to undertake preparation and development works at the Union Estate.

But despite the ongoing controversy, many residents of the area believe the smelter will bring much-needed jobs and other economic benefits.

Local historian and smelter advocate Arthur Forde said people in La Brea and surrounding villages were organizing "a thanksgiving service and other events to mark the end of the difficult period the residents went through while the EMA was processing the application."

© Copyright 2007 FCN Publishing,

Alcan plans Saudi aluminum project

Brisbane Times, Australia - May 1, 2007 - 8:06AM

Alcan says it will join Saudi Arabian mining company Ma'aden to develop one of the world's largest integrated aluminum-making operations at a cost of $US7 billion ($A8.46 billion).

Alcan, the world's No. 2 maker of primary aluminum, would hold a 49 per cent stake in the project in Saudi Arabia, which would comprise 1,400 megawatts of power generation, a 720,000-tonne aluminum smelter and 1.6-million-tonne alumina refinery.

It would draw on a 90-million-tonne bauxite reserve in Az Zabirah in northern Saudi Arabia, which represents 30 years of mining in terms of proven reserves, Alcan said.

Ma'aden will own the other 51 per cent of the project and Alcan will provide technology and operational support.

Ma'aden is a joint stock company formed in March 1997 and wholly owned by the Saudi government.

The company, which is mainly a gold miner, has plans to raise up to $US2.5 billion ($A3 billion) this year in an offering of shares that could put 40 per cent of the company into public hands.

The next step in the project, which Ma'aden had been exploring for about three years with other prospective partners, is completion of the joint venture agreement and preparation of financing, Alcan said.

Montreal-based Alcan said it expects the project's first metal to be poured in the first quarter of 2011, with the first alumina produced a year later.

Alumina is refined from bauxite and is the key input, along with massive amounts of electric power, in making aluminum.

Saudi Arabia has been making efforts to attract investment from big aluminum makers, relying largely on gas-fired electric power.

"They've got cheap energy, and that's where aluminum smelters get built," said Victor Lazarovici, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

The Saudi project would add to the global supply of primary aluminum, which depending on world demand, could have an affect on prices for the metal.

"To be involved in the project is a net positive for Alcan, in that they at least get to participate in the upside generated by the project as well any potential downside for the market," Lazarovici said.

The smelter will initially be based on two potlines using AP36 technology, but will be designed to accommodate four more potlines that could increase annual capacity to more than 2 million tonnes, Alcan said.

Chief Executive Dick Evans said the project has "an ideal combination of competitive energy resources, local bauxite, well-developed infrastructure and favourable logistics."

"We're highly confident in any number of scenarios that we would run that this would have quite an attractive return," Evans told Reuters.

Alcan, which has said it wants to tap what it sees as surging demand in the developing world for aluminum, said the alumina plant, aluminum smelter and power generation facilities would be located in the new Minerals Industrial City at Ras Az Zawr, on the east coast of Saudi Arabia.

At Alcan's annual meeting on Thursday, Evans had hinted that the company was mulling a number of undisclosed projects.

"This is the biggest, but it doesn't mean we don't have some other interesting things we're working on," Evans said on Monday.

Two of Alcan's major projects are stalled - the $US1.8 billion ($A2.18 billion) expansion of its Kitimat smelter in Western Canada, and a plan to add capacity to its ISAL smelter in Iceland.

Lazarovici said aluminum makers such as Alcan have to plan for the long term so that production matches growing demand.

"Clearly, they are not going to stand still and pass up opportunities if there are delays at Kitimat and ISAL," he said.

Alcan shares slipped 40 Canadian cents to $C66.12 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but were up 14 cents at $C59.65 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday afternoon.

The shares have risen about 32 per cent over the past six months, largely on higher profits. There has been intermittent speculation that the widely held company may become a takeover target.

© 2007 Reuters,