AluNews - April 2009

Gov asks to intervene in Alcoa hydro licensing

CharlotteObserver.com - Wednesday, Apr. 01, 2009

By Bruce Henderson, bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com

Gov. Bev Perdue this afternoon sought to intervene in the federal relicensing of Alcoa's hydroelectric project on the Yadkin River.

Perdue asked for an emergency hearing on her motion, which was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency that issues hydro licenses.

The governor's dramatic move comes after years of sparring between the aluminum maker and Stanly County, home of its now-closed aluminum smelter that once employed about 1,000 workers.

Alcoa now sells the electricity produced by its four Yadkin dams on the open market. Stanly and its political supporters say the hydro revenues should benefit the Yadkin region, and argued the point when the license came up for renewal.

Perdue's motion said renewing Alcoa's license "would reauthorize control of a vital public natural and economic resource by a private company when nearly all the major factors originally supporting that control in 1958 have since vanished."

The federal energy agency had indicated it was poised to renew Alcoa's license for another 50 years. Only the state's issuance of a key water-quality certificate, expected by May, remains in the years-long process.

Montenegro Smelter Lays Off 20%

The Moscow Times - 02 April 2009, Reuters

PODGORICA, Montenegro -- Loss-making aluminum smelter KAP, owned by Oleg Deripaska, will temporarily suspend 20 percent of its work force, sending 450 workers on mandatory leave in response to falling global metals demand, union officials said Wednesday.

Kombinat Aluminijuma Podgorica, or KAP, Montenegro's top exporter with 2,100 workers, announced the suspension a day after a court issued a ban on its exports following demands by KAP's creditors to collect debts.

KAP has already defaulted on tax, duties, VAT and other payments to the state and state-owned companies, and in March the government offered KAP guarantees for a 20 million euro loan if En+ Group, part of Deripaska's Basic Element holding, dropped a court case against Montenegro.

En+ brought a suit before a German arbitration court last year seeking 300 million euros ($397 million) in damages over an alleged false evaluation of KAP assets at the time of sale.

In a statement Wednesday, KAP's trade union urged directors to provide assurances to workers that they will return to their jobs and to make sure that while on leave, the workers will get 80 percent of their wages.

"The trade union also suggested that all employees, including the management, rotate in mandatory leave," trade union leader Zoran Milosevic said.

Alcoa-public utility cooperation rescues hundreds of domestic smelting jobs

Mineweb - Wednesday , 01 Apr 2009

A government-private sector partnership between the New York Power Authority and Alcoa will save two aluminum smelters and preserve more than 1,100 jobs.

Author: Dorothy Kosich

New York Power Authority and Alcoa said they have reached an agreement that will save hundreds of jobs at Alcoa's Massena, New York smelters in the near term and preserve hundreds more positions under its planned long-term modernization project.

Alcoa operates two smelters in Massena with a combined production of 255,500 metric tons per year.

Because of the 60% decline in aluminum prices, Alcoa was considering curtailing operations at both smelters, which would have eliminated 1,100 jobs.

In a statement, NYPA President Richard M. Kessel said, "It is critical to the economy and the future of Northern New York that we step in and work with Alcoa to avoid losing this community-anchoring company and the largest private sector employer in the region with hundreds of high-paying manufacturing jobs."

"We understand Alcoa's temporary business situation in the context in the global economy," he added, "but now we are confident that the aluminum manufacturer will have a bright future in Massena."

In a statement Alcoa U.S. Primary Products President John Thuestad said, "This extraordinary effort by NYPA will save the Alcoa operations in the North Country, retain nearly 1,000 jobs in the region, and preserve the company's expansion plans."

The agreement includes:

Exchanging a portion of Alcoa's firm hydropower allocation from the idled East Plant to the West Plant and transferring its ‘interruptible" hydropower allocation to the East Plant;

Waiving for two years the minimum charges related to its power allocations at the East Plant;

Temporarily lowering Alcoa's job commitment threshold to 90%, which will conform with NYPA's job commitment requirements of other industrial companies; and

Allowing Alcoa to make payment to the North County Economic Development Fund as projects are approved instead of capitalizing the funds in full upfront.

"Although the decision to curtail and the necessity of some job reductions is difficult, these steps and particularly NYPA's cooperation in working with us through these unprecedented times, are critical to the survival of the two Massena plans and they preserve the future of the Massena Modernization Project," Thuestad said

UPDATE 1-Workers begin strike at RUSAL Guinea alumina plant

Reuters UK - Wed Apr 1, 2009

* Workers demand higher salaries

* Skeleton crew keeping refinery running

CONAKRY, April 1 (Reuters) - Workers at Russian aluminium firm RUSAL's Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea began a strike on Wednesday, a mines ministry official in the West African country said.

"Workers at Friguia went on strike today for better salaries," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are on site, and we have convinced them to begin negotiations," he said.

"A reduced workforce is keeping a minimum service going so the refinery does not shut down completely," the official said.

Friguia employs more than 1,000 people to refine bauxite into alumina, an intermediate product which is then smelted to become aluminium MAL3.

It has capacity to produce 640,000 tonnes of alumina per year, according to the firm's website. RUSAL is expanding Friguia's capacity to around 1 million tonnes.

Officials at RUSAL's Moscow headquarters could not immediately be reached for comment.

Guinea is the world's biggest bauxite exporter.

Since taking power last December, its ruling military junta has repeatedly threatened to review and cancel contracts the previous government signed with the many international mining firms that work there.

Though rich in gold and iron ore as well as bauxite, Guinea is deeply impoverished, and in the past Guineans have targeted resources firms in protests against lack of water and electricity.

On Wednesday, the military administration released three former mines ministers from custody after the men said they would repay money the new government accused them of embezzling while in office.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb, additional reporting and writing by Daniel Magnowski in Dakar)

RUSAL's Friguia alumina output at 40 pct on strike

Reuters India - Apr 3, 2009?

* Guinea shuts down RUSAL subcontractors

* Company, union far apart on salary demands

* Friguia production down to 40 percent of capacity (Adds talks suspended for the weekend)

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, April 3 (Reuters) - Production at RUSAL's Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea fell to 40 percent of capacity as a strike rumbled through its third day, the Russian aluminium firm said on Friday.

Workers at the West African plant, which employs more than 1,000 people and has capacity to refine enough raw material bauxite to produce 640,000 tonnes of alumina per year, went on strike on Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

"The refinery is now operating at minimal capacity -- 40 percent of its normal capacity," RUSAL said in a statement. "Negotiations to resolve the situation at Friguia are underway," it said, without giving details of talks' status.

Sekou Ousmane Diallo, secretary general of the main union at Friguia, told Reuters late on Friday that the talks had been suspended for the weekend but would restart on Monday.

RUSAL, the world's biggest aluminium producer, said in February it would cut annual aluminium output by 11 percent, alumina output by 30 percent and staff by 5 percent as part of a cost-cutting programme.

Guinea's mines ministry shut down five of RUSAL's local subcontractors on Friday, a decision the firm said it would challenge.

Workers want the firm to triple their salaries to the local equivalent of $300 per month from $100, a demand the world's biggest aluminium producer described on Thursday as "unacceptable and economically groundless."

Unions rejected RUSAL's offer of a $20-per-month increase for technical and administrative staff and $2 per month for labourers, a RUSAL employee in Guinea said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Salary negotiations have not yet succeeded," the employee said.

Benchmark prices of aluminium traded in London have halved in the past twelve months, and analysts say an oversupplied global market could make further price falls likely as demand for industrial metals plummets as a consequence of the world financial crisis.

A military junta that seized power in Guinea in December has threatened to review and potentially cancel contracts international mining companies signed with the previous administration.

Though rich in gold and iron ore as well as bauxite, Guinea remains deeply impoverished, and in the past Guineans have targeted resources firms in protests against lack of water and electricity. (Writing and additional reporting by Daniel Magnowski in Dakar; Editing by David Lewis and Christian Wiessner)

Rio Tinto Slows Alumina Project, Cuts Bauxite Output (Update1)

Bloomberg April 7, 2009

By Rebecca Keenan

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third- largest mining company, will slow the expansion of the Yarwun alumina refinery in Australia and cut output from the Weipa bauxite mine because of declining prices.

Annual production from Weipa in Queensland state will drop 23 percent to 15 million metric tons, the London-based company said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. It cut 705 permanent and contractor jobs, it said.

The global recession has curbed demand, causing aluminum prices to halve in the past year. At the current price about 70 percent of the global alumina industry is making a loss, said Steve Hodgson, president of Rio’s bauxite and alumina unit.

"Even with alumina industry capacity cuts equivalent to 21 million tons per year since the beginning of the crisis, including cuts of 12 million tons made since January, there is still little improvement in the alumina price," Hodgson said in the statement.

Rio shares declined 9.2 percent to A$53.65 at 11:25 a.m. Sydney time on the exchange. Bauxite is refined into alumina, the raw material used to make aluminum.

The expansion of the Yarwun alumina refinery will be slowed with completion now due in the second half of 2012, it said today. Rio approved $1.8 billion in spending in 2007 to expand the refinery to 3.4 million tons a year by 2011. It is 27 percent complete, Rio said last week.

Aluminum Corp. of China agreed on Feb. 12 to buy $7.2 billion of convertible bonds and acquire $12.3 billion of interests in Rio projects in Australia, the U.S. and Chile, including a 50 percent stake in the existing Yarwun refinery. Chinalco, as the state-owned company is known, delayed a funding deadline for the expansion of the Yarwun refinery to the end of May from March 31, Rio said last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Keenan in Melbourne at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

RUSAL's Friguia alumina output at 40 pct on strike

Reuters India - Apr 3, 2009?

* Guinea shuts down RUSAL subcontractors

* Company, union far apart on salary demands

* Friguia production down to 40 percent of capacity (Adds talks suspended for the weekend)

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, April 3 (Reuters) - Production at RUSAL's Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea fell to 40 percent of capacity as a strike rumbled through its third day, the Russian aluminium firm said on Friday.

Workers at the West African plant, which employs more than 1,000 people and has capacity to refine enough raw material bauxite to produce 640,000 tonnes of alumina per year, went on strike on Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

"The refinery is now operating at minimal capacity -- 40 percent of its normal capacity," RUSAL said in a statement. "Negotiations to resolve the situation at Friguia are underway," it said, without giving details of talks' status.

Sekou Ousmane Diallo, secretary general of the main union at Friguia, told Reuters late on Friday that the talks had been suspended for the weekend but would restart on Monday.

RUSAL, the world's biggest aluminium producer, said in February it would cut annual aluminium output by 11 percent, alumina output by 30 percent and staff by 5 percent as part of a cost-cutting programme.

Guinea's mines ministry shut down five of RUSAL's local subcontractors on Friday, a decision the firm said it would challenge.

Workers want the firm to triple their salaries to the local equivalent of $300 per month from $100, a demand the world's biggest aluminium producer described on Thursday as "unacceptable and economically groundless."

Unions rejected RUSAL's offer of a $20-per-month increase for technical and administrative staff and $2 per month for labourers, a RUSAL employee in Guinea said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Salary negotiations have not yet succeeded," the employee said.

Benchmark prices of aluminium traded in London have halved in the past twelve months, and analysts say an oversupplied global market could make further price falls likely as demand for industrial metals plummets as a consequence of the world financial crisis.

A military junta that seized power in Guinea in December has threatened to review and potentially cancel contracts international mining companies signed with the previous administration.

Though rich in gold and iron ore as well as bauxite, Guinea remains deeply impoverished, and in the past Guineans have targeted resources firms in protests against lack of water and electricity. (Writing and additional reporting by Daniel Magnowski in Dakar; Editing by David Lewis and Christian Wiessner)

Rio Tinto Slows Alumina Project, Cuts Bauxite Output (Update1)

Bloomberg April 7, 2009

By Rebecca Keenan

Rio Tinto Group, the world’s third- largest mining company, will slow the expansion of the Yarwun alumina refinery in Australia and cut output from the Weipa bauxite mine because of declining prices.

Annual production from Weipa in Queensland state will drop 23 percent to 15 million metric tons, the London-based company said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange. It cut 705 permanent and contractor jobs, it said.

The global recession has curbed demand, causing aluminum prices to halve in the past year. At the current price about 70 percent of the global alumina industry is making a loss, said Steve Hodgson, president of Rio’s bauxite and alumina unit.

"Even with alumina industry capacity cuts equivalent to 21 million tons per year since the beginning of the crisis, including cuts of 12 million tons made since January, there is still little improvement in the alumina price," Hodgson said in the statement.

Rio shares declined 9.2 percent to A$53.65 at 11:25 a.m. Sydney time on the exchange. Bauxite is refined into alumina, the raw material used to make aluminum.

The expansion of the Yarwun alumina refinery will be slowed with completion now due in the second half of 2012, it said today. Rio approved $1.8 billion in spending in 2007 to expand the refinery to 3.4 million tons a year by 2011. It is 27 percent complete, Rio said last week.

Aluminum Corp. of China agreed on Feb. 12 to buy $7.2 billion of convertible bonds and acquire $12.3 billion of interests in Rio projects in Australia, the U.S. and Chile, including a 50 percent stake in the existing Yarwun refinery. Chinalco, as the state-owned company is known, delayed a funding deadline for the expansion of the Yarwun refinery to the end of May from March 31, Rio said last week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Keenan in Melbourne at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

China's aluminum deficit to be short lived: Alcoa CEO

International Business Times - 07 April 2009

Roger Williams

A deficit of aluminum in China will be short lived as rumors that smelters are preparing to restart production circulate, Alcoa chief executive Klaus Kleinfeld said on Tuesday.

"The deficit in China is short term. China is currently importing more scrap than ever. Its a rare and more expensive around the world," he said during a web presentation and conference call with analysts.

He noted that there are "rumors that smelters are preparing to be restarted" to increase production.

A slide used in Kleinfeld's presentation indicated that China had a 2,100 kmt supply deficit in January and February of this year while the "Western World" had a surplus of 1,400 kmt in the same period.

The global aluminum industry is in the midst of curtailing production as demand and prices for the metal have plummeted amid the worldwide economic slowdown.

However a slide in Kleinfeld’s presentation suggested that smelter operations may have to be restarted to meet demand. A graphic showed that by August of 2008, all aluminum production cuts announced for China had already taken place.

When asked to consider the effects of demand created by China’s subsidy of the aluminum industry and the government’s participation in the market through the State Reserve Bureau, Kleinfeld said he didn’t expect it to be a factor.

"The deficit is not a longer term phenomenon, but on balance scrap, imports and [smelter] restarts are factors," he said.

"Longer term, two years from today, we see a restructuring. The strategic reserve had a very specific regional component. It was used to buffer out certain regional employment imbalances. We don't believe we will see that happening forward."

Analyst sees lower aluminum prices through 2011

Purchasing.com - 4/7/2009

Aluminum demand continues to slide, keeping supply in glut

By Tom Stundza

Aluminum prices are "deeply depressed" says analyst Lloyd T. O’Carroll at Davenport & Co., who forecasts world aluminum ingot to average 66Ę/lb this year, down from an average $1.18 in 2006-2008, because of reduced demand and ballooning inventories.

O’Carroll sees a glutted aluminum market in 2009 and now projects global days of supply at 100 days in 2009, the highest level since 1993, because world purchases of primary aluminum ingot "currently is abysmal" and won’t rebound much until next year. He only sees ingot at 84Ę/lb next year and 95Ę in 2011--"since supply and demand equilibrium won’t occur for two or three years."

Only an average 13% of the buyers polled for the past six months by Purchasing.com have indicated an inclination to increase purchasing of aluminum products. And now, O’Carroll projects double-digit declines in shipments of mill products this year into the construction, transportation, consumer durables and machinery markets. Demand for aluminum in the construction market has been sliding since 2005, transportation since 2004 and durables and machinery since 2007. "We should see end-market demand at least stabilizing in 2010 and perhaps perking up," O’Carroll suggests.

Looking at aluminum products overall, the Aluminum Association’s new orders index declined 7% in February from January and dropped 29% from February 2008. Orders for the flat-rolled products category, which includes sheet, plate, can stock and foil, were off 9.3% while order receipts for extruded products were down 4.9%. Orders for the much-smaller "other" mill products category, which includes drawing stock, electrical conductor and forgings, grew 11.9%.

In January, shipments of all aluminum products, including ingot, to U.S. customers from U.S., Canadian and offshore producers increased from the 1.39 billion lbs shipped in December to an estimated 1.44 billion lbs--but that was down 26.4% from 1.96 billion lbs in January 2008. While O’Carroll insists there is plenty of pent-up demand to be released during the recovery, he also says that probably won’t happen until 2010. So, O’Carroll says purchasing will drop 15% this year to 18.28 billion lbs from 21.43 billion in 2008, and then improve 7% in 2010 to 19.5 billion lbs. O’Carroll forecasts that world aluminum demand will drop 11% this year to 33.9 million metric tons from 37.9 million in 2008, but then will rebound 10% to 37.4 million in 2010.

http://www.purchasing.com/article/CA6649950.html?industryid48389

Alcoa to lay off 275 workers after union refuses to cut work hours at Quebec smelter

Winnipeg Free Press - 09-Apr-2009

Ross Marowits

MONTREAL - U.S. aluminum company Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) is laying off about 275 workers at its Quebec smelter in Becancour, Que. after the union refused to cut its work hours to help trim costs.

The Pittsburgh-based company announced late Thursday that a series of giant pots that hold molten aluminum used to create the light-weight metal will close by the end of April because of the recession, reduced demand and falling aluminum prices.

"At the plant in Becancour we couldn't arrive at a deal with the union so we had to find another way to reduce our operating costs and that's what we announced today," spokesman Pierre Despres said in an interview.

The closure is for an indeterminate period of time, he said. Production could be restored if aluminum prices increase after falling dramatically in recent months.

Employees at Alcoa's three other plants in Quebec had agreed to cut work hours or overtime in a bid to trim costs by 15 per cent.

The metal workers union that rejected such moves has been in mediation in an effort to renew its collective agreement that expired in November. A union spokesman couldn't be reached for comment late Thursday.

One of Becancour's series of three potlines was also closed in 2004 following a strike by union workers.

Alcoa reported earlier this week a US$497-million loss in the first quarter as revenue fell 44 per cent from the same time last year.

Alcoa said it moved to reduce production by about a third after l'Aluminerie Becancour's attempts to increase the plant's productivity by cutting costs were insufficient.

The 15 per cent cost-cutting announced in March follows the company's decision in December to cut 13,500 positions, or 13 per cent of its global workforce.

Alcoa Canada Primary Metals includes the Baie-Comeau, Becancour and Deschambault smelters, as well as the Becancour rod plant.

The Becancour plant, northeast of Montreal, employs 1,000 people and produces 418,000 tonnes of aluminum annually. It is jointly owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto PLC (NYSE:RTP), which has a 25 per cent stake.

Last year, Alcoa reached agreement with the Quebec government on a new power agreement to supply its three smelters in the province through 2040. Alcoa is planning to invest US$1.2 billion to upgrade and expand Baie-Comeau production to 548,000 tonnes per year.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Alcoa shares rose 79 cents to close at US$8.85, a gain of 9.8 per cent in trading of more than 49 million shares.

Maaden to split aluminium project

MEED (subscription) - 09 April 2009

Author:Matthew Martin

Smelter to be built at Ras al-Zour first, with refinery and bauxite mine at Zubairah to follow in 12 months.

http://www.meed.com/news/2009/04/maaden_to_split_aluminium_project.html

Rio workers need answers

Gladstone Observer - 9th April 2009

Who will go and when is the question.

Chrissy Harris

The axe has fallen, now the worry begins for more than 500 Rio Tinto Alcan workers at Yarwun near Gladstone.

On Tuesday Rio Tinto Alcan announced the 600 job losses at three of its Gladstone sites - Boyne Smelters Ltd, Yarwun refinery and its Yarwun Two construction site.

For 500 workers on the Yarwun Two site their jobs will be terminated during the next seven weeks.

Yesterday Electrical Trade Union (EUT) state organiser Craig Giddins met with workers under threat.

"It was a sombre meeting," he said.

Mr Giddins said workers wanted to know how and who would be identified to go, whether there will be forced redundancies or whether they would call for voluntary redundancies and if locals would be given preference over "out of towners."

He was critical of Rio Tinto's handling of the cuts.

"Bechtel and Rio Tinto both need to shoulder some of the responsibility for finding alternative work," he said.

"I hope when the state government's first response team arrives all parties are around the table."

Mr Giddins said workers looking for direction could phone 0419 721 043 as a first point of contact.

State Member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham has emailed both Treasurer Andrew Fraser and Premier Anna Bligh asking for the first response team to be despatched.

"So far I haven't received a response," she said.

She wants to see infrastructure projects using similar skill sets to those retrenched fast-tracked.

She said the onset of the LNG industry start-up was too far away to benefit those about to lose their jobs.

The city's airport construction, a recycling plant to reduce QAL's reliance on Awoonga Dam turned down by the Government, school projects recently announced and bringing forward affordable housing projects are among the projects Mrs Cunningham said could begin immediately.

"The pressure is on the Government to do something and do it now and not just talk about it," she said.

Tiwai Point smelter 'safe'

Stuff.co.nz - Apr 7, 2009

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Southland appears to be keeping its head above water despite an announcement by parent Rio Tinto yesterday that it was cutting back an expansion project in Australia and reducing bauxite production.

Rio Tinto said yesterday it would slow construction of an alumina refinery expansion in Queensland and cut bauxite, or aluminium ore, production by 4.4 million tonnes from its Weipa mine in Queensland.

The move, which will result in the loss of 135 fulltime jobs and 570 contractor positions, followed a sharp fall in alumina and aluminium demand and prices in recent months.

Rio Tinto Alcan bauxite and alumina president Steve Hodgson said 70 per cent of the industry was operating at a loss.

However, New Zealand Aluminium Smelter general manager Paul Hemburrow said Rio Tinto's move would have no effect on the Tiwai Point smelter.

The smelter, which employs about 800 people, had supply contracts with Yarum, which would not be affected by the change, he said.

Recent falls in aluminium prices were being felt but orders were still coming in and cost-cutting had seen an improvement in the smelter's financial position last month compared with the two previous months.

Cost-cutting included 90 staff taking up an offer of extended leave or reduced working hours. The company was also looking into the Government's nine-day fortnight initiative to see if it could be applied at the smelter.

"We're making changes to our spending but we still have some way to go," Hemburrow said.

Meanwhile, the smelter expects to begin testing a damaged transformer crucial to restarting a stalled pot-line in a few weeks.

The pot-line stopped operating in November, and in a bid to save time and money, repairs to the 100-tonne transformer were being done onsite rather than shipping it to Japan for repair, Hemburrow said.Fairfax

Live & Learn: Dick Evans

CanadianBusiness.com - 09-Apr-2009

Rio Tinto Alcan's ex-CEO talks about Canada's biggest corporate takeover and says the current downturn isn't yet the worst the mining sector has seen.

By Sean Silcoff

Dick Evans Born Sept. 24, 1947, in Eugene, Ore. Ex-CEO of Rio Tinto Alcan Proud Canadian citizenship candidate

My introduction to the aluminum business was in my sophomore year. I received a scholarship from Alcoa. When I graduated, I had offers from Alcoa and Kaiser. I was getting married, we wanted to see the world, and the offers were roughly the same. I asked Gretchen which one she thought I should accept, and she said, "Which one is farther from Oregon?" The Kaiser job was 100 miles further away, in Spokane, Wash., so we took it.

Our decision to stay in Montreal evolved over time. While I was CEO of Alcan, we got actively involved with the community. We've been here for about eight years as residents. We started to see the benefits and appreciate some of the advantages that Montreal, Quebec and Canada offer.

I guess it all depends what you grew up with and what you like. I grew up on a cattle ranch in the foothills of the Coast range. My mother still lives on the ranch. My younger sister and her husband live there as well.

One of the aspects of Montreal that is somewhat unique among major metropolitan areas is the access to the outdoors. I've always liked the outdoors. Growing up in Oregon, I learned fly-fishing and have stuck with that. That's something I'd like to do more of. I've also gone back into my other passion, outdoor photography.

Some of the values, attitudes, tolerance, diversity, value on the arts, all in conjunction with a serious business purpose, and the ability to balance those in your public and private life, are the attributes of Montrealers that we aspire to, if don't represent. We've developed a lot of friends here. It's also a six-hour flight to Paris or London or Zurich, and we enjoy Europe.

There's no question the winter can be a little rough, but we've been through eight of them, and it doesn't bother us that much. We've got two four-wheel-drive vehicles.

My French is, unfortunately, de minimus. It's something that I've had very little time to work on. The irony is that my mother was a French teacher for 25 years, and I took German instead.

We started the permanent residency application process a year ago. Our intent and hope is to end up with dual citizenship. We were told we passed the interview.

Do I feel cheated by having a short stint at the top? I really don't. It was a period when we were being recognized for some of the things we had done. Our preference would have been for Alcan to stay an independent company. We thought we had a great future ahead.

It was quite clear the market saw great value in Alcan. I doubt anyone would have expected the price would go to $101 per share. It stands as the largest transaction in Canadian history, and also as the largest mining and metals transaction worldwide. Our shareholders did well, and Rio Tinto paid a fair price, because others were prepared to pay a nearly equal price.

I don't think the recent cuts at Alcan would be any different had it stayed independent. Aluminum prices are down sharply. I think there's no connection to the Rio Tinto debt. If we knew what we know today, we — Rio Tinto — would have termed out the Alcan debt, accelerated asset sales and got our balance sheet in better shape.

I have no desire to be a full-time CEO again. I had a short but great run, wouldn't change it for the world, but I don't feel any burning need to repeat that. I remain quite interested in business.

I've accepted the non-executive chairmanship of AbitibiBowater. I think I will find that very challenging and interesting. I think there is more upside in this opportunity than downside.

AbitibiBowater could be forced into a restructuring. That certainly is not our objective, and we'll explore all avenues to protect shareholder value short of that.

I've been asked if this is the worst downturn by far. My answer is no. The 1982 recession, at least for our sector, was worse. Now, this could get to that point. In 1982, we had unemployment in the 15% range, interest rates as high as 20%, whole sectors of the economy were just wiped out. People did not feel they knew that it would recover.

There's certainly anxiety now, but there's a confidence that the right things will be done, that it will be tough for two to three years, but then we'll get back on a positive growth path and a stable economy.

Intalco Works says it could shut without BPA break

Seattle Times - 10-Apr-2009

Alcoa's Intalco Works aluminum smelter could shut down within weeks unless the Bonneville Power Administration offers it a break on electricity, a consultant for the aluminum company says.

FERNDALE, Washington

Alcoa's Intalco Works aluminum smelter could shut down within weeks unless the Bonneville Power Administration offers it a break on electricity, a consultant for the aluminum company says.

Jack Speer, a former Alcoa vice president who is now working as a consultant for the company, told a public meeting at BPA's Portland, Ore., headquarters on Thursday that the smelter west of Ferndale in northwestern Washington is losing money because power costs too much and the price of aluminum is too low.

Without the promise of a price break under a new BPA rate that takes effect Oct. 1, Speer said the plant, which has about 500 employees, has little chance to survive, the Bellingham Herald reported.

"We're better off shutting the plant down right now," Speer said. "It is a good plant. It has an excellent work force and a supportive community. ... It should operate for years. Yet here we are in this situation we have to deal with."

Alcoa wants BPA to link its electric bill to the world price of aluminum, with the new rate in place by Oct. 1 at the latest. The company also hopes the variable rate can be a part of a longer-term power contract to take effect in 2011.

But both BPA staffers and representatives of other power users argued that the issue is too complex to be worked out before April 17, when BPA is supposed to file its formal response to Alcoa's proposal for power rates taking effect Oct. 1. BPA staffers favored starting up a new process to resolve financial and

legal implications of such a deal, giving rival other power users a chance to study it and offer rebuttal.

That could take months, and Bill Oplinger, an Alcoa vice president."Every day we delay this decision is a day we lose more money," he said. "We have weeks, not months."

"I think the smelter will be closed by that time," Speer said. "The question is, would it reopen?"

Oplinger said Alcoa has already cut production at its U.S. plants by about 30 percent in recent months. Without a better price for electricity, Intalco would be "very much at the top of the list for the next level of production cutbacks," he said.

Alcoa currently pays about $60 per megawatt for power it contracted to buy from other sources between now and 2011, Speer and Oplinger said.

Intalco has been getting a $15-per-megawatt cash subsidy from BPA, but the legality of that arrangement has been questioned, and the plant is still losing money even with the subsidy, they said.

"The shutdown-now option is a terrible option," Oplinger said. "We think that's a loser for everybody. ... We don't want to shut down the plant, but we can't continue to have the losses that we have currently."

Representatives of the Northwest's public utilities object to price breaks for Alcoa, saying it would come at the expense of their own industrial customers, who also are struggling with high power costs and lower prices for their products.

Mike Rousseau, Intalco plant manager, countered that electricity accounts for about one-third of the operating costs of an aluminum smelter.

"A little increase impacts us significantly more than the other power users," he said. "We're in a loss situation. We're bleeding badly. The only alternative to reduce our losses is to go after the power."

In addition to Intalco, Alcoa operates an aluminum smelter near Wenatchee. That smelter has a power contract with the Chelan Public Utility District running through 2028.

Guinea Weighs Action Against Rusal Over Alumina Plant (Update2)

Bloomberg 12-Apr-2009

By Alpha Camara and Antony Sguazzin

Guinean President Moussa Camara said he asked the country‚€™s Justice Ministry to consider legal action over a 2006 transaction that gave control of the Friguia bauxite and alumina complex to United Co. Rusal.

The Guinean government was paid a fraction of the amount the company was valued at by consulting firms, Camara said on state television late yesterday.

"Guinea has to exercise its rights by getting back this factory which belongs to it," Camara said. "It is not a question of leaving this refinery, which has to serve future generations."

Camara took power on Dec. 23 after a coup that followed the death a day earlier of Lansana Conte, who had ruled the west African country for 24 years.

Conte‚€™s government concluded the agreement with Rusal, and Camara‚€™s government has said mining deals made with the previous regime will be probed.

"The decision has been made to establish a commission on the privatization of Friguia, which will thoroughly study the situation and give its final conclusion," Rusal spokeswoman Elena Shuliveystrova said by e-mail. "We, Rusal, welcome this decision because Rusal privatized Friguia legitimately and in full

compliance with the legislation."

Friguia Acquisition

Friguia has the capacity to produce 640,000 metric tons of alumina and 1.9 million tons of Bauxite a year, according to Rusal‚€™s Web site. Bauxite, an ore,

is used to make alumina, which in turn is used in the manufacture of aluminum. Guinea is the world‚€™s biggest bauxite exporter.

Guinea agreed to let Rusal buy full control of Friguia, Rusal said in April 2006. Rusal, which had been operating the mine through a concession, bought 100 percent of Friguia from the state and acquired the 15 percent it didn‚€™t already own in Alumina Co. of Guinea, which manages Friguia. The Russian company didn‚€™t give a purchase price at the time.

Camara said Rusal paid $19 million for the assets, while consultants had valued it at $257 million. The president, who didn‚€™t name the consultants, also said action will be taken against the Guineans who negotiated the transfer of the company to Rusal.

Guinean ministers arranged the sale without going through the national privatization company, Momo Sacko, a government lawyer, said today, according to Reuters.

Anatoly Patchenko, the head of Rusal‚€™s Guinean operation, has taken refuge in the Russian embassy in the African country‚€™s capital, Conakry, Guinea‚€™s state-owned radio reported.

Separately, Rio Tinto Group is considering developing an iron ore mine in Guinea, while AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. owns a gold mine in the country.

To contact the reporter on this story: Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.netAlpha Camara in Conakry via Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

Indian Police Clash With Maoist Guerillas at Orissa Nalco Mine

Bloomberg - April 13, 2009

By Pratik Parija

April 13 (Bloomberg) -- Indian security forces clashed with Maoist guerillas attempting to seize the explosives store at National Aluminium Co.‚€™s bauxite mine in Orissa, leaving at least 15 people killed, officials and television channels said.

The siege at the Koraput mine that began at 9:40 p.m. last night ended this morning, H.C. Pradhan, spokesman for the state- run company, said by telephone from Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern state, where National Aluminium is based.

At least 11 security personnel and four Maoist guerillas were killed in the encounter, the Times Now television channel said.

The total number of casualties isn‚€™t yet known and the area is being cleared of landmines by the police, Pradhan said. More than 200 armed Maoist rebels attacked the mine when about 200 workers had started their night shift, the Indian Express newspaper reported, citing unidentified officials.

Maoist rebel groups, known as Naxalites, are active in at least 11 of India‚€™s 28 states. They have targeted landowners and police for more than three decades in a campaign for jobs and land rights for the poor.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called them the nation‚€™s biggest security threat.

Aluminum is smelted from alumina, a semi-processed material made from bauxite ore. National Aluminium, or Nalco, makes 345,000 tons of aluminum and exports 64 percent of the 1.6 million tons of alumina it produces every year.

Maoists rebels are targeting infrastructure to cripple transport and slow development in India, the government says. There were 358 incidents of Maoists

violence in the 12 months to March 31, 2008, the Home Ministry has said in a report on its Web site. The violence claimed the lives of 45 policemen, 89 civilians and 74 Maoists, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratik Parija in New Delhi at

pparija@bloomberg.net

Alutrint Commences Preparatory Work on Much Delayed 125,000-Ton Aluminum Smelter Project in Trinidad and Tobago

Industrialinfo.com (subscription) - April 15, 2009
BANGALORE, INDIA--April 15, 2009--Researched by Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--

Alutrint Limited (Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago), an engineering services provider, recently announced that it has commenced preparatory work on the 125,000-ton-per-year aluminum smelter being set up by the firm at the Union Industrial Estate, La Brea, in southwestern Trinidad. Compaction and piling work

is currently under way.

http://www.industrialinfo.com/showAbstract.jsp?newsitemID145724

Alcoa May Cut Quebec Output Without Wage Concessions (Update2)

Bloomberg 15-Apr-2009

By Rob Delaney

Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, might cut output at a Quebec smelter by about a third if workers don‚€™t agree to lower wages.

Alcoa might shut one production line, or about 136,000 metric tons of annual output, at its 75 percent-owned Becancour smelter by April 30 without the wage

concessions, company spokesman Kevin Lowery said today by telephone. Rio Tinto Ltd. owns the rest of the plant.

About 20 percent of Alcoa‚€™s production has been cut since aluminum prices began falling last year. Alcoa started negotiating with about 3,500 unionized workers in Canada last month to reduce payroll costs by 15 percent.

"We told them that if we cannot reduce the costs, we‚€™re going to have to reduce production," Lowery said. "You‚€™re going to see steps in the interim that will begin the preparations" to curb production. The cutbacks would affect about 270 workers, he said.

Alcoa already has decided to cut the jobs, violating its labor agreement and ignoring talks under way aimed at preventing job losses, Clement Masse, president of the United Steelworkers chapter that represents the workers, said in a statement today.

"Alcoa‚€™s attitude is in sharp contrast with the union‚€™s efforts to create a climate of cooperation, and with the plan we had mutually agreed on that would see hours reduced," Masse said. "We are now calling on the government to ensure that the labor agreement negotiated with Alcoa remains in force."

Aluminum for delivery in three months has fallen 50 percent in the past year on the London Metal Exchange to $1,535 a metric ton.

Scared Nalco workers being goaded to return

Business Standard - April 15, 2009

Dillip Satapathy / Bhubaneswar

The company says there will be no impact on the overall operations.

Even as aluminium maker Nalco plans to restart operations at its Panchpatmali bauxite mines in Koraput district tomorrow, the employees stay too scared to go back to work.

The company, however, said two days of no work at the mines following the Naxalites‚€™ attack will not affect the overall operations of the company; it will only have a "demoralising effect" on employees.

"We are ready to restart operations, but it all depends on getting back the people to work," said a top executive of the company. He said discussions were on with employees and the workers‚€™ union.

There are about 400 employees working on these mines of which 100 were trapped inside when the Naxalites laid siege to the property. The siege ended yesterday after an eight-hour gunbattle.

The security forces, meanwhile, cleared the mines area for start of operations and the company officials checked the equipment and machinery.

"Fortunately, there is no damage to the equipment," he said, adding, "but the incident has left a psychological scar on the employees and they feel scared."

The ultras did not harm employees, but held them captive for over eight hours on Sunday night. There was heavy exchange of fire between the Central Industrial Security Force deployed at the mines and the Naxals, which left 14 dead.

This has left a deep impact on the psyche of the employees and it will take time to heal, said CR Pradhan, chairman and managing director of Nalco.

The mines produce 12,000-15,000 tonnes of bauxite every day. The bauxite is refined at Nalco‚€™s alumina refinery in Damanjodi, about 15 km from the mines.

"We have 30 days‚€™ bauxite stock at the refinery. So two days‚€™ stop will not

affect operations," Pradhan said.

RusHydro Presells Key Plant

The Moscow Times - 16 April 2009

RusHydro said Wednesday that it has presold all the electricity for 2010 from a key hydropower plant that it is building with United Company RusAl, although financing problems have cast a cloud over the project.

Acting CEO Vasily Zubakin said at an industry conference that the contracts have facilitated RusHydro's talks with banks on getting loans of up to 36 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) to finish building the Boguchansk plant, part of which is supposed to be launched next year. RusHydro manages all of Russia's hydropower stations.

The electricity will be bought by Krasnoyarskenergosbyt, a RusHydro spokesperson said. Negotiations on 2010 power supplies are also under way with Polyus Gold and Polymetal, she said.

RusAl, an equal co-investor in the plant, is seeking to delay the launch until 2012, saying the facility is too expensive and will have too few customers. The company has already delayed the start of its nearby aluminum plant, which was expected to become the main consumer. This year, 20 billion rubles are supposed to be spent building Boguchansk, the spokesperson said.

Calls to RusAl's press office went unanswered Wednesday afternoon.

Zubakin said Wednesday that RusAl's role in the project was being negotiated.

VEB might finance the power plant's construction, and RusHydro could take RusAl's shares, a source in RusHydro said.

DUBAL to take stake in Brazilian alumina plant

The National - April 15. 2009

Chris Stanton

Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL) will acquire a stake in an alumina project in Brazil to source raw materials for its smelter in Jebel Ali, it was announced late yesterday.

DUBAL will take a 19 per cent stake in a planned alumina refinery that will produce 1.86 million tonnes of alumina per year when it comes online in 2012,

Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, the Brazilian mining giant, said.

The announcement follows DUBAL‚€™s establishment of an alumina joint venture last year in the African country of Guinea in partnership with the Mubadala Development Company.

DUBAL officials could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Vale will retain 61 per cent ownership of the project, with the balance held by Hydro Aluminium, a Norwegian firm. The Brazilian company did not disclose the value of the deal, but in September it said capital expenditures for the project would total US$2.2 billion (Dh8.07 billion).

Alumina is the principle ingredient in the production of aluminium metal, and is made from bauxite, a mineral that is prevalent in Brazil.

DUBAL produced about 960,000 tonnes of aluminium last year and plans to raise that figure to 1 million tonnes this year.

cstanton@thenational.ae

Alcoa May Cut Quebec Output Without Wage Concessions (Update2)

Bloomberg 15-Apr-2009

By Rob Delaney

Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, might cut output at a Quebec smelter by about a third if workers don‚€™t agree to lower wages.

Alcoa might shut one production line, or about 136,000 metric tons of annual output, at its 75 percent-owned Becancour smelter by April 30 without the wage concessions, company spokesman Kevin Lowery said today by telephone. Rio Tinto Ltd. owns the rest of the plant.

About 20 percent of Alcoa‚€™s production has been cut since aluminum prices began falling last year. Alcoa started negotiating with about 3,500 unionized workers in Canada last month to reduce payroll costs by 15 percent.

"We told them that if we cannot reduce the costs, we‚€™re going to have to reduce production," Lowery said. "You‚€™re going to see steps in the interim that will begin the preparations" to curb production. The cutbacks would affect about 270 workers, he said.

Alcoa already has decided to cut the jobs, violating its labor agreement and ignoring talks under way aimed at preventing job losses, Clement Masse,

president of the United Steelworkers chapter that represents the workers, said in a statement today.

"Alcoa‚€™s attitude is in sharp contrast with the union‚€™s efforts to create a climate of cooperation, and with the plan we had mutually agreed on that would see hours reduced," Masse said. "We are now calling on the government to ensure that the labor agreement negotiated with Alcoa remains in force."

Aluminum for delivery in three months has fallen 50 percent in the past year on the London Metal Exchange to $1,535 a metric ton.

Ormet's Survival Hinges on Lawsuit

Wheeling Intelligencer - April 17, 2009

By HEATHER ZIEGLER

HANNIBAL - A dispute between Ormet Corp. and alumina supplier Glencore Ltd.

is threatening the future of the Monroe County plant and the 1,000 workers it currently employs.

Aluminum maker Ormet announced Thursday that it has initiated legal action against Glencore because Glencore no longer wants to deliver alumina to the plant or remove the finished aluminum as required under its current agreement.

Unless a resolution is reached soon, Ormet could be forced to begin laying off employees in June.

Alumina is the principal component in the manufacture of aluminum. Ormet officials said they filed legal action with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio seeking a preliminary injunction against Glencore to prevent the interruption of alumina deliveries as required under the agreement.

The agreement is binding until the end of this year, Ormet officials said.

Without the alumina, Ormet could be forced to shut down operations, threatening the jobs of approximately 1,000 active employees and retiree benefits for about 3,000 former employees, company officials said.

Ormet Chief Executive Officer Mike Tanchuk said Glencore no longer wants to fulfill its end of the contract now that aluminum prices have declined.

"Unfortunately, notwithstanding our long and positive relationship with Glencore and significant efforts on our part to resolve this issue without resorting to legal action, Glencore has decided not to honor its contractual obligations to Ormet," he said. "Glencore's position is without merit. Having

enjoyed the substantial benefit of pricing terms under the rolling agreement for many months, Glencore no longer wishes to fulfill its contractual obligations now that aluminum prices have declined.

"Rather than honoring its obligations, Glencore is attempting to use its size, market position and significant financial resources relative to Ormet to force upon Ormet unjustified material changes to Glencore's obligations under the tolling agreement. Glencore's wrongful use of force majeure is nothing more than a way to try to escape a binding contract that it no longer finds desirable."

Tanchuk said despite weeks of talks, the court action became necessary when an agreement or compromise could not be reached.

"We developed a (pricing) agreement that they provide the alumina and we turn it into aluminum metal. Then they take the metal product away as well," Tanchuk said.

"The price of metal was set last year when it was worth much more than it is now. We've been trying to work with them but we just could not reach an agreement. The court action was our last resort."

Tanchuk assured that Ormet currently has enough product on hand to see the plant through the next few months. However, by June, Ormet will no longer have enough material to process and that's when layoffs could be a possibility.

Could Ormet Lay Off Hundreds?

WTRF - April 16, 2009

Ormet CEO responds to rumors and questions

Story by D.K. Wright

HANNIBAL, Ohio -- Rumors are swirling that the Ormet Corporation could close several potlines and lay off hundreds of workers in the near future.

Today Ormet's CEO responded to those rumors. Mike Tanchuk says it could happen, but it certainly is not planned. He says they have two irons in the fire that could keep the plant operating as usual. But both would have to turn out just right.

The first critical part is Ormet's power rates. Tanchuk says that's their biggest cost. At first, he says, Ormet had asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for a fixed price for 2009 and another rate for the next nine years.

Then last Friday they amended their application.

"We modified it last Friday to address the fact that there's the possibility of reducing the operations here," Tanchuk said.

The second part, he says, is that they filed for a preliminary injunction against Glencore, the company that provides their raw material and then buys their metal at a fixed price.

Tanchuk says that price is no longer in keeping with today's market. "That price was determined last year when the metal prices were much higher," he said.

This part is also critical, Tanchuk says, because Ormet can't create their product without the raw material. The preliminary injunction they're seeking would force Glencore to continue to supply Ormet as they do now. He says they need both the court order and the PUCO decision to go in Ormet's favor.

"If not, Ormet could cease to operate the way we are now," Tanchuk said. "The metal price in the market today couldn't sustain our operation."

He says he's aware that rumors are already flying about a possible shutdown.

So what does he say to the one thousand employees?

"We don't try to hide anything," Tanchuk said. "We tell them what is going on. And we explain what we're doing. That we, along with the steelworkers, are doing everything humanly possible to address the situation and keep them employed."

He says if they do have to reduce operations, they've come up with a plan to mitigate the damages as much as possible. He says they should know the results of both decisions--from federal court and the PUCO--in about one month.

Nalco likely to lose a week's production

Daily News & Analysis - Friday, April 17, 2009

Nandini Goswami

Kolkata: National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is likely to lose one week of bauxite production due to the Maoist attack on its Panchpatmali mines at the Koraput district in Damanjodi. The company is readying to resume operations at the mines by the weekend once security clearances are in place.

With Orissa in the midst of polls from Thursday, security clearance for the Panchpatmali mines is expected soon. Nalco is also taking a host of steps to prevent further attacks like the one on Sunday night when Maoists stormed the mine area at Koraput. A senior Nalco official said, "Once the area is declared

safe, we will resume work on Saturday in phases. This is the first time something as dangerous as these attacks has happened, which definitely shakes up employees working in the area."

PK Mahapatra, executive director (mines and refinery) at Damanjodi, said, "The CISF has already stepped up deployment in the mines and we have started repairing the areas damaged during the (Maoist) raid." All senior directors of Nalco are visiting the site to communicate with employees in the aftermath of the attack.

Nalco sources said that the company would not affected by the attack. Plans are afoot to work in extended shifts to make up for the loss in production. The attack has led to fear among people living and working around the area.

About 500 employees, including officers, work in the Damanjodi mines, which have one of the richest reserves of bauxite in the world.

A Nalco official said, "We have 4 lakh tonne of bauxite reserves at Damanjodi alumina refinery, which will suffice our operations for a month." The company has a smelting capacity of 34,5000 tonne, alumina refinery capacity of 1.57 million tonne and a power generation capacity of 960 mw. Nalco is looking to take its capacity for aluminium smelting to 4,60,000 tonnes, for alumina to 2.10 million tonnes and for power generation to 1200 mw under the second phase of expansion.

Aluminum companies protest AEP rate hike in W.Va.

Williamson Daily News - 18-Apr-2009

CHARLESTON (AP) — A pair of struggling aluminum plants are opposing a 43 percent rate increase sought by American Electric Power’s West Virginia subsidiaries.

Alcan Rolled Products says in a document filed Thursday with the state Public Service Commission the increase would make it impossible for the company’s Ravenswood plant to compete in the struggling aluminum industry.

Century Aluminum says in a PSC filing the increase would severely affect its operations. Century closed its Ravenswood smelter and laid off approximately 650 people in February.

The companies are the latest manufacturers to oppose the increase, which AEP maintains is necessary primarily because of rising coal prices.

Separately, the PSC’s Consumer Advocate Division has declined to take a position on AEP’s request for an interim 18.5 percent rate hike starting July 1.

Aluminum Workers Protest in Guayana, Venezuela

Venezuelanalysis.com - Apr 17, 2009

by Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

Mťrida, April 17th 2009 (Venezuelanlaysis.com) -- On Wednesday, workers from Venezuela's aluminum sector protested in Guayana City, Bolivar state, over the lack of operation of several plants and the concern that some wages would not be paid. The workers also demanded that government authorities rescue the companies through more investment.

The workers come from Bauxilum, Carbonorca, Venalum, and Alcasa, companies that are affiliated to the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), a government-owned "Socialist" corporation. They also come from the steel plant, Sidor. Approximately 400 workers were involved in the protest.

CVG on its website, describes itself as a "decentralized state-owned enterprise... [which] accepts the challenge to properly and sustainably [sic] take advantage of the valuable...minerals...to foster national development through economic diversification based on a policy of strategic alliances with domestic and foreign, public and private capital." It is made up of 15 enterprises and over 18,000 employees across 5 states.

A workers news website, Laclase.info reported that four aluminum factories are "in their worst operative state in history" and that the workers are demanding that the national government listen to their petitions and proposals around the improvement and financing of these factories.

Manuel DŪaz from the Union of Professional University Workers (Sutrapuval) argued that the four presidents of the factories need to resign for not looking for solutions and for "taking the benefits and salaries of the workers."

Laclase.info also reported that union leadership told a press conference that workers haven't received their food tickets, the dinning room service was canceled for administrative workers and day workers, amongst other problems. They also said that aluminum production has gone down from an average of 17,000 tons per month to 10,000 tons.

Vietnam's China Mining Plans Spark Rare Criticism

CNNMoney.com - April 19, 2009

HANOI (AFP)--A plan to let a Chinese company build a bauxite mine in Vietnam has triggered rare public outcry from critics, who say the environmental and social damage would far outweigh any economic benefit.

Some even fear the plan, agreed to by leaders of the two communist countries without broader dialogue, could ultimately mean the de facto seizure by Beijing of a strategic region of Vietnam.

Vietnam's government estimates the country's bauxite reserves at 5.5 billion tons - a major draw for the world's mining giants.

In 2007 it approved a plan for two major mining operations to be run by state- owned Vietnam National Coal, or Vinacomin, and Mineral Industries Group in the Central Highlands.

A subsidiary of Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, has been granted a contract to build one mine, while the U.S. aluminum company Alcoa Inc. (AA) has partnered with Vinacomin to explore the feasibility of a second.

But in a country that bitterly recalls 1,000 years of Chinese occupation - and more recently a brief 1979 border war - any presence of Vietnam's big neighbor on its territory is perceived by some as a menace.

Nguyen Ngoc, a writer whose work focuses on the Central Highlands and its people, said there was a longer-term risk of seeing the region come under strong Chinese influence.

"The Central Highlands constitute a strategic position for all of the south of Indochina," said Ngoc, who alleges Chinese companies are already exploiting bauxite across the border in Laos.

"They say that who is master of the Central Highlands is master of southern Indochina."

While the bauxite project presents "financial, ecological and social problems, " he said the most important question was that of security and independence.

In a one-party state where public protest is rare, scientists, intellectuals and former soldiers have joined critics of the regime to denounce the government's plans.

"China has been notorious in the modern world as a country causing the biggest pollution as well as other problems," 135 Vietnamese intellectuals said in a petition criticizing the mining plan and delivered Friday to the National Assembly, or parliament.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has said the bauxite mining industry would help spur socio-economic development in the Central Highlands, the state Vietnam News Agency reported.

The government estimates the projects would require total investment of more than $10 billion and would, by 2025, annually produce between 13 million and 18 million tons of alumina, a partially-processed product of bauxite.

However, critics say the mines would bring only limited financial benefit to Vietnam, which plans to export most of the alumina.

The plan's most prominent opponent is Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, 97, who led Vietnam's victory over French colonial forces.

In open letters to the government, he warned of the danger to the environment, to the lives of ethnic minorities, and to Vietnam's "security and defense."

The Ho Chi Minh City War Veterans' Association has expressed similar views, and economics professor Nguyen Quang Thai said in a recent report to the government that Giap's warning should be respected.

"We should not allow foreign laborers" into the area," Thai wrote, without naming China.

Exploitation of natural resources - notably for coffee production - has already provoked violent clashes in the Central Highlands, home to the ethnic minority Christian Montagnards, who have battled land confiscation and religious persecution.

Dissident monk Thich Quang Do, head of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, has urged people to denounce the "destructive effects" of the planned mine on indigenous people.

A permanent Chinese presence in the Central Highlands would pose "an alarming threat" to national security, he said.

If the bauxite projects are carried out, scientists fear massive destruction of the fertile soil where forests, coffee and tea grow.

They also worry about water pollution, and say the local population - some of whom received or will receive compensation - risk loss of land and aren't qualified to work in the facilities.

Writer Ngoc said there could be "new revolts" by the region's ethnic minorities.

Experts estimate thousands of Chinese would arrive for the bauxite projects, and say several hundred are already in Lam Dong province, where the ground is being cleared.

"For countries like Vietnam...exploiting natural resources for development is necessary," said geologist Dang Trung Thuan.

"Exploitation is obvious, but to what extent?"

  ?

With Debt Reprieve, RusAl Will Fund Boguchansk Again

The Moscow Times - 20 April 2009 Bloomberg

United Company RusAl, billionaire Oleg Deripaska's aluminum company, agreed to resume funding of Russia's biggest electricity project after foreign banks allowed it to suspend payment on $7.4 billion of debt.

RusAl will pay 1.24 billion rubles ($40 million) to help cover wages owed to workers at the Boguchansk hydropower project in Siberia, according to a letter RusAl sent to state-run partner RusHydro, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. RusAl said it paid an additional 193 million rubles on Wednesday. About 7,000 workers are employed at Boguchansk.

"This offer solves the issue of payment arrears but not the question of resuming construction," said Yevgeny Druzyaka, a spokesman for RusHydro. Half of all building work has stopped because of nonpayment to workers and subcontracting companies, Druzyaka said by e-mail.

RusAl is Russia's biggest nonstate debtor, owing about $17 billion, including $2.8 billion to shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov. The company has less than two months to renegotiate $7.4 billion owed to more than 70 banks including Citigroup, BNP Paribas and Merrill Lynch, after reaching a so-called standstill accord in March.

In its letter, RusAl said the money it was offering was within the spending limits agreed to with creditors. RusHydro has spent 2.7 billion rubles on construction so far, according to the letter.

Vera Kurochkina, a spokeswoman for RusAl, did not reply to e-mails or text messages seeking comment.

RusAl last month recommended halting the 3,000-megawatt project altogether, a proposal that was rejected by RusHydro.

Deripaska earlier put off breaking ground on a nearby aluminum smelter for at least two years.

Rio to sell China aluminum stake to Zhongjin

Reuters - Tue Apr 21, 2009

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Rio Tinto (RIO.L)(RIO.AX) plans to sell its 27 percent stake in a Chinese aluminum processing joint venture to its partner Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet 000060.SZ, China's third-largest zinc producer said on Tuesday.

Rio, which is trying to sell assets to pay off debt, acquired the stake in the joint venture, Nonfemet International (China-Canada-Japan) Aluminum Co Ltd, when it bought Canada-based aluminum group Alcan in 2007.

The transaction was "required by Alcan's global industry adjustment," Zhongjin said in a statement in the official China Securities Journal, adding that the value of the deal was $3 million.

Late last year, the Anglo-Australian miner had agreed to sell its half in a Chinese aluminum smelting joint venture to its partner Qingtongxia Aluminum.

Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet paid $29.8 million for 50.1 percent in Perilya Mining (PEM.AX) in Australia.

(Reporting by Alfred Cang and Jacqueline Wong)

Alcoa Updates Its Advisory Panel on Rockdale Operations Status

Elgin Courier - Mon Apr 20, 2009

The Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa, Rockdale Operations-CAPARO-will receive an update from Alcoa on Monday, May 11 as they did on February 9.

The updates cover the status of the curtailment of aluminum production and its impacts on the community.

Royce Haws, Alcoa Rockdale Operations Location Manager, reported that the atomizer continues to operate. The smelter and casthouse operations remain shut down but have had repairs and are being maintained so they are ready to restart when the economy improves and aluminum prices rise. Rockdale Operations had 1160 employees but will be down to a total of 70 to 80 employees this spring. These numbers include salaried, hourly, and contract employees. As required by permit, reclamation of the former Sandow Mine will continue. Alcoa is looking at options for use of the water under Sandow formerly needed for mining.

CAPARO heard that Alcoa is being affected by the downturn in customer businesses such as automotive, housing, and aerospace, as well as the deep decline in aluminum prices on the London Metals Exchange. Other aluminum companies worldwide are facing the same issues. Asked if the stimulus package would help Alcoa, Haws said Alcoa benefits when people are able to buy cars, siding, trucks, etc. Growth in the solar industry will help because solar panels use aluminum powder, like that made in the atomizer unit.

Cleveland OKs $550,000 to help Alcoa fix press

The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com - Monday April 20, 2009

by Frank Bentayou / Plain Dealer Reporter

A union leader calls the press, used in the manufacture of forged aluminum parts, the backbone of the Alcoa Forged and Cast Products plant on Harvard Ave. in Cleveland. The press has been shut down since late September.

Cleveland City Council agreed Monday night to commit $550,000 to help repair a crippled 10-story hydraulic press that's key to whether Alcoa keeps its Forged and Cast Products operation here.

The Cleveland money would become part of a proposed $20.6 million set of loans and tax incentives from the state and local governments aimed at keeping Alcoa in the region.

Without some $68 million in repairs to the press, Alcoa has suggested the plant could leave, ending as many as 1,200 jobs here. Most of the workers are members of the United Auto Workers union Local 1050, who make aluminum wheels and large, intricate aerospace parts on the Mesta Machine Co. 50,000-ton press.

The unit, which last summer engineers discovered was cracked, squeezes aluminum billets into metal dies resulting in aircraft struts and airframe components. Its value is that it exerts 100 million pounds of pressure, more than almost any other such press.

Concerned about the great expense, Alcoa has been busy since late fall exploring options to the idled machine and its Cuyahoga Heights work force.

"You have to explore all the different options, understand the pros and cons of what you can do" to keep making parts with what workers call "The 50," said Kevin Lowery, Alcoa's corporate spokesman.

The options include contracting work out to some other super-heavy-duty press, buying a plant that has similar machinery or building a new one somewhere else.

That said, Lowery affirmed that "it has always been our preference to figure out how to repair that press right here and get it back into use."

But, since last summer when the company first realized the extent of cracks in the press's foundation, the cost has been a sticking point for Alcoa. And without The 50 at work, the company's Cleveland Works would have no real purpose. Good-paying jobs would end here.

"This press is a huge asset," said Steve Schoeny, director of the strategic business investments division of the Ohio Department of Development. "It allows the company to do things that are essential for really important products."

Plus, it provides jobs for more than 1,000 skilled workers. So the state is considering tax benefits, low-interest loans and grants to help defer repair costs for the company. With the support, Schoeny said, would come assurances that "a certain number of jobs would stay there for at least a certain number of years."

To receive the state incentives, local governments had to invest $800,000 into the incentive package, including a forgivable loan from Cleveland, support from Independence and Cuyahoga Heights, a loan from Cuyahoga County and more from the Cleveland/Cuyahoga Workforce Investment Board. Ohio would give tax relief, a loan and a grant, worth $19.8 million.

"It's important to show a company that they have a strong regional support," said Tracey Nichols, Cleveland's director of economic development, who helped put together the local incentive package.

She said rebuilding the press is a 30-month job. Alcoa then will have to rush into a major military contract with Lockheed. "We're feeling there's a certain urgency," she said.

Meanwhile, Lowery said Alcoa hopes for what he called "a stable work environment" at the plant, too, and the company will seek financial sacrifices from the union.

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2009/04/alcoa_press.html

A worker sprays lubricant into the 50,000-ton Mesta Machine press in this 2000 photo.

Cleveland looks to aid $70 million rebuilding of Alcoa press

Crain's Cleveland Business - April 20, 2009

http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20090420/FREE/904209970

New Iceland Smelter Funded with Glacier Bonds?

IcelandReview - 20/04/2009

The executives of NordurŠl – Century Aluminum have for the past weeks discussed with the Central Bank the possibility of using the value of so-called "glacier bonds" (i.e., bonds denominated in ISK held by foreign parties) and other assets of foreign parties in Iceland to fund its smelter in HelguvŪk, south Iceland.

The aluminum smelter in ReydarfjŲrdur, east Iceland, under construction. Photo by PŠll StefŠnsson.

http://www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id16568&ew_0_a_id322952

On Friday, Iceland’s Althingi parliament granted permission to Minister of Industry ÷ssur Skarphťdinsson with 38 votes against nine to reach an agreement with NordurŠl HelguvŪk ehf. and Century Aluminum Company on the smelter on behalf of the Icelandic government, Frťttabladid reports.

Ńgķst Hafberg, managing director of business development and communications at NordurŠl, explained that the purpose of this method of funding is to help free the owners of glacier bonds from the currency restrictions without causing further depreciation to the Icelandic krůna.

Prime Minister Jůhanna Sigurdardůttir said at the Central Bank’s annual general meeting on Friday that the bonds in Icelandic krůna are a matter of concern since they can jeopardize its stability. It is therefore important that the owners of such bonds are assisted in selling them in an organized and systematic manner, she argued.

Hafberg stated that his company is interested in funding the HelguvŪk smelter in such a way, but that the matter is in the initial stages.

According to Frťttabladid’s sources, the arrangement would involve NordurŠl accepting Icelandic krůnas from the owners of the glacial bonds, who are unable to move their money out of the country because of the currency restrictions, and issue bonds in US dollars instead.

Once the HelguvŪk smelter begins operating and receives revenue in US dollars, the part of the revenue would be used as a down payment for the bonds.

The Central Bank has also discussed this option with other companies, including Landsvirkjun, the national power company, as confirmed by Thorsteinn Hilmarsson, Landsvirkjun’s information officer.

It is unclear how large amounts of money are held by foreign parties in glacier bonds and other assets, but when the currency restrictions were established in November 2008, their worth was estimated between ISK 400 and 500 billion (USD 3.1 billion and 3.9 billion, EUR 2.4 billion and 3.0 billion).

The HelguvŪk smelter is currently under construction. Ground was broken for it last summer. It is hoped that the project will provide employment for many of the almost 1,900 people who are unemployed in the Sudurnes region.

Carbonorca employees stop plant, demand payment

Your Metal News (press release) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009

Employees at Venezuelan carbon anodes producer Carbonorca, which supplies the aluminum industry, have halted operations to demand that the company pay salaries, a union leader told BNamericas..

"The company didn't pay the mid-month salary and this is our way of calling attention to the crisis we are experiencing," the union leader said..

The union leader added workers are still demanding that state heavy industry holding CVG and the country's basic industries and mining ministry (Mibam) release information about an aluminum recovery plan that President Hugo ChŠvez announced more than one month ago..

CVG holds 10% of Carbonorca directly, while CVG-controlled aluminum reducers Alcasa and Venalum each have 45%. All three are located in Puerto Ordaz, in eastern Venezuela.

Azerbaijan aluminum factory complex halted manufacture because of flat market

Azerbaijan Business Center 21-Apr-2009

Baku, Fineko/abc.az. Azerbaijan Aluminum (Azeraluminium) joint stock company has stopped fully activity of its raw material section – Gil Torpag (Alumina) in Ganja.

The Company reports that operation of the enterprise was stopped because of impact of the global economic crisis and lack of demand for aluminum products from Azerbaijan at world markets.

In 2007 at the opening ceremony of the first and second electrolysis shops in the Azeraluminium’s Sumgait-based factory of nonferrous metals President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan claimed that the government was ready to raise up to $100 million to ensure export of 150,000-160,000 tons of aluminum a year.

"Output should be exported under trademark Azeral, and that will be a contribution to non-oil sector development," he said then.

At the world market then a ton of aluminum cost $2,700 and annual demand for it made 33 million tons. Sumgait enterprise’s capacity was increased up to 60,000 tons due to investments of AZN 62 million.

Bauxite from India and Guinea was imported for the factory. At the same time Ganja-based "Glinozyom" factory increased its aluminum manufacture from 87,000 tons in 2001 up to 423,600 tons in 2006.

In 2009 it was planned to commission a new aluminum factory with capacity of 100,000 tons a year that would ensure domestic aluminum production up to 160,000 tons. Azerbaijan also has a possibility to process up to 100,000 tons of aluminum oxide from Tajikistan. Investments in the Ganja factory were estimated in $212 million.

RusAl Cuts Costs by $554 mln, Safety Concerns Follow

Oil and Gas Industry Latest News - 22-Apr-2009

(Moscow Times) - United Company RusAl said Tuesday that it slashed costs by $554 million in the first quarter, half of what it had planned to save for the whole year, but workers said they thought that the reductions were taking a toll on efficiency and safety.

RusAl said in an e-mailed statement that it cut management expenses by 60 percent, reduced raw materials expenses by 35 percent and cut production costs by 23 percent.

The company planned to cut production costs by another 26 percent by the end of the year to reach its savings target of $1.1 billion.

"We have reduced costs, optimized production at economically inefficient facilities and progressed in negotiations with our key creditors," RusAl chief executive Oleg Deripaska said in the statement. "Our proactive steps will also strengthen our position as the world's most efficient aluminum company."

RusAl's debt, among the highest in Russian industry, is estimated at $14 billion. The firm signed a two-month standstill agreement with about 70 foreign banks on $7.4 billion of debt on March 11, and it is in restructuring talks.

Aluminum prices have plunged nearly 60 percent since July to $1,431 per ton as of Tuesday.

Aluminum output fell 7.2 percent to 1 million tons in the first quarter, year on year. The company planned a full-year cut of 11 percent from last year's level, or 500,000 tons. The production of bauxite, a key aluminum component, dropped by 34.2 percent to 3 million tons in the first quarter, year on year. RusAl planned to cut bauxite production by 5.6 million tons for the year.

Workers at RusAl's bauxite mine in Severouralsk, in the Sverdlovsk region, said the austerity measures, such as not replacing drilling equipment, had hurt productivity and forced them to cut corners on safety regulations.

"They haven't cut the production plans for my mine, but it falls anyway when you're running around for half the shift looking for a perforator," Vladimir Murzin, a Severouralsk miner, said by telephone. "They stopped buying some new components and instruments, so we have to exchange with each other.

"Since we don't have enough iron supports to build the mine, we have to go back to spent sectors to get more, which is prohibited by the safety rules," he said.

A RusAl spokeswoman said none of the cuts would affect the technology process or the safety work at the mine and that the miner's comments did not reflect the overall situation at the mine or RusAl. The Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use inspects RusAl's mines for safety violations monthly, she said.

A call to the service's local office went unanswered after office hours on Tuesday.

Nalco restarts mines with cut in working hours

Economic Times - 22 Apr 2009

Rakhi Mazumdar , ET Bureau

KOLKATA: Nine days after it was hit by a daring Maoist strike, National Aluminium Co (Nalco), the country’s largest aluminium producer, finally

resumed production at Damanjodi bauxite mines on Wednesday.

However, this was not before the Nalco management gave in to workers’ demand for truncated working hours. Nalco has a 500-strong workforce at its mines.

"We have restarted operations at the mines this morning after the entire area was declared safe by the bomb squad of the state police force. Transportation of bauxite is also taking place. The conveyor cable belt too has started working around 11 am after it was declared safe on Tuesday evening," a top Nalco official told ET from Damanjodi.

Significantly, Nalco’s mine workers’ union have refused to work between 6 and 10 pm as part of their demand for truncated working hours during the evening shift. This, in turn, would lead to reduction in production targets. Since incentives are linked to achievement of these targets, it could consequently lead to lower incentives payouts. "We have principally agreed to the union’s demand, which is subject to approval from the company’s top brass," the official added.

Accordingly, restoration of production at the mines has come at a heavy cost for Nalco, which dominates global trade in alumina at the London Metal Exchange. The aluminium major has not only taken a hit in mine output --Damanjodi mines produce 14,000 tonnes of bauxite daily-- but also in terms of a dent in employee morale. "We’ve lost nine days production which amounts to roughly around 1 lakh tonnes of bauxite as result of the disruption in mining activity," the official added.

The attack on Nalco’s mines seems to have triggered off a first ever move to undertake a comprehensive security review across all mineral industries by a joint team of union mines and home ministry.

$50M loan for Alcoa smelter

The Gazette (Montreal) April 24, 2009

By Lynn Moore

Alcoa Canada will receive up to $50 million in loans from the Quebec government to help finance improvements at its Baie-Comeau facility, the subsidiary of the largest U.S. aluminum producer said Friday.

The loan follows fiscal help from the city of Baie Comeau as well as union concessions to reduce operating costs, the company said. The funds will be used to close older production lines and increase the efficiency of the smelting operations. About 1,600 people work at the facility

Earlier this month, Alcoa said it would temporarily shut a production line at the Bťcancour aluminum smelter, sending about 275 workers home.

The move was a consequence of a "breakdown in talks" with the unions there to reduce the workweek by about 15 per cent, Alcoa said in a statement.

Aluminerie de Bťcancour Inc. (ABI), is a joint venture in which Alcoa has a 75-per-cent stake and Rio Tinto Alcan is the minority partner.

Century Aluminum may soon shut more smelter output

Reuters - Fri Apr 24, 2009 6:52pm BST

By Carole Vaporean

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Century Aluminum Co (CENX.O) may cut its smelter output further amid excess supply that is keeping prices below many producers' cash costs.

Century Chief Executive Officer Logan Kruger noted that Century's 28 percent capacity curtailment already puts it among the world's biggest slashers of aluminum output during the current economic downturn.

"This puts us at the high end of curtailments compared to other industry players, but we are prepared to take further steps to reduce production levels if the economics make sense," the CEO told analysts on a conference call earlier this week.

Century executives said they were talking with suppliers, customers, and business partners about further output cuts.

"Everything is in the mix at this point in time," said Chief Financial Officer Mike Bless, adding that each of its plants had a unique set of considerations.

More specifically, Chief Operating Officer Wayne Hale said the company may decide to close another potline at the Hawesville, Kentucky, smelter sometime soon.

At "Hawesville, we curtailed Line 5 in early March, and the plant is now operating efficiently at an annual capacity of around 200,000 tonnes per year," Hale said. "At this point, I can say there appears to be benefits to curtailing an additional potline."

He said another closure was "being considered for sometime in the near future, and if completed, would represent an additional 50,000-tonne reduction.

"We are in discussions with our customers and suppliers to ascertain if and when the curtailment of additional capacity is feasible and makes economic sense," he added.

Hawesville is currently operating four lines to supply metal to privately held Southwire Co, but could take down an additional line and still supply Southwire with three lines.

In March, Century closed a 52,000-tonne-a-year potline at the Hawesville smelter, bringing its total shutdowns to 220,000 tonnes a year, or 28 percent of its 2008 production capacity.

In February, Century completely shut its 170,000-tonne-a-year Ravenswood, West Virginia, facility.

Earlier this week, the Monterey, California-based producer reported a wider-than-expected loss in the first quarter after slashing production to combat weak demand for aluminum and a drop in sales over more than 50 percent.

Results for the most recent quarter included a charge of $24.3 million related to job cuts and other costs stemming from production cuts at Ravenswood and Hawesville.

Ravenswood is operating in a care-and-maintenance mode with a support staff of 28 people. It expects to cut another four to five jobs over the next couple of months.

The plant's union contract expires at the end of May and Hale said Century is working with the union to begin talks.

"We look forward to the new contract being an enabler when it's time to consider restarting the plant," the COO said.

Kruger said the company had not seen many concrete signs of improvement in its end markets, either in North America or around the world. But there were signs of stabilization, particularly from China's recent increased level of activity.

"Until we see more evidence, it's difficult to gain much confidence at this time. The industry remains in an oversupplied position," the CEO said.

Moreover, the executives said they believed rumored Chinese smelter restarts were already underway in localized areas where the social impact of unemployment was being weighed against the high power use to run the plants.

(Additional reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

2,000 Chinese laborers may work on Central Highlands alumina project

VietNamNet Bridge - 24/04/2009

The Chinese partner in the Nhan Co Aluminum Company is preparing a request to employ 2000 Chinese workers at the bauxite mining site in Dak Nong Province.

Before the end of the month, the Nhan Co Alumina JS Company will submit its environmental assessment report on a proposed bauxite mining and alumina refining project to the Dak Nong Province Peoples Council for its review.

The company is also preparing to start construction of a 650,000 tonne/year alumina refinery, at a cost of VND12.5 trillion ($735.2 million) in Nhan Co commune, Dak RLap district, Dak Nong.

Nhan Co General Director Bui Quang Tien said that Chalco is hastening research on Vietnamese laws on foreign workers in order to bring Chinese workers to the central highlands province.

Tien said that during important phases of construction, there may be up to 2,000 Chinese workers at Nhan Co.

Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding between the partners, the only foreign workers that Nhan Co Alumina JS Company will employ will be highly skilled specialists. They will stay in a 2ha area near the construction site, according to the MOU.

The Nhan Co Company and the Dak Nong provincial police are working together on the draft of a letter to Chalco explaining Vietnamese laws on employment of foreign workers and the necessary conditions for maintaining public security and order in Dak Nong.

At the Tan Rai bauxite mining project in adjacent Lam Dong province, which has already been launched, there are 500 Chinese workers. Among that number, many are simple laborers who entered Vietnam on tourist visas, said a vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

Environmental impact assessment by Nhan Co joint venture called unconvincing

At a scientific seminar on the bauxite mining projects in the Central Highlands on April 9, the central government, responding to criticism by scientists, promised to re-examine the projected economic gains from these ventures and adjust the bauxite industry development plan. It has been waiting for the submission of a supplementary report on environment impacts of the Nhan Co project.

On April 16, the Dak Nong provincial authorities considered the assessment of the projected environmental impact of the Nhan Co alumina refinery. The plant has a designed capacity of 650,000 tonnes yearly and may be expanded to 1.2 million tones. In view of the concerns expressed by scientists regarding bauxite exploitation in the central highlands, the report did not contain enough solid information to persuade the local authorities of the project’s environmental safety.

At the seminar on April 9, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai stated that alumina projects that have annual capacity of 1-2 million tones will be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.

DJ Vietnam: Won't Sell Stake In Bauxite Projects To Foreigners

MarketWatch (press release) - April 26, 2009

HANOI, (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --

Vietnam isn't planning to sell stakes in bauxite projects in the Central Highlands to foreign interests.

Vietnam has started building two projects, each an annual production capacity of 600,000 tons of alumina, the raw material used in aluminum production, the government said on its Web site Sunday.

"The state-run Vietnam National Coal - Mineral Industries Group will continue to be the investor for two projects of Tan Rai and Nhan Co, and won't sell stakes to foreigners," it said.

In 2006, Vinacomin signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S.-based Alcoa Inc. (AA) regarding a potential 49% stake in an alumina project in the Central Highland region, but the two sides haven't announced any further details.

-By Nguyen Pham Muoi, Dow Jones Newswires, 84-435-123-041; phammuoi.nguyen@dowjones.com

In Vietnam, New Fears of a Chinese 'Invasion'

TTX CŰng GiŠo Vi?t Nam - April 26, 2009

http://www.vietcatholic.net/News/Html/66518.htm

UAE, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese investors interested in Iran

SteelGuru - Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009

Mehr News Agency cited Mr Bahman Ayar Rezaii MD of the Persian Gulf Mines and Metals Special Economic Zone said that the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, India and China are interested in investing in the zone.

Mr Bahman Ayar Rezaii said that based on a plan the zone will be turned into a hub of industry and energy with annually 10 million tonnes of steel, 500,000 tonnes of aluminum and 3000 MW of electricity production capacities.

He went on to said that USD 500 million has been invested in the zone in the last Iranian calendar year, predicting the figure would touch USD 700 million in the current year. Industrial goods and minerals are currently exported to Pakistan, Taiwan, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

(Sourced from Mehr News Agency)

ALCOA hopes new power contract will bring smelting restart

Maryville Daily Times - April 27. 2009

By Robert Norris

Ninety-five years after ALCOA Tennessee Operations fired up its first potline and seven weeks after the company shut down its last, the question remains: Will aluminum ingots ever roll out of the South Plant again?

For some, the question is not so relevant anymore. After the announcement that the plant was being closed, more than 130 ALCOA employees accepted the company's severance package. Others were laid off -- 245 hourly workers and 80 of the salaried workforce.

The London Metal Exchange price for aluminum is half what it was one year ago, so prospects for any immediate change is nil. The demand for the 1.3 million pounds of molten metal that the smelting plant can produce does not exist in the current marketplace.

Kaiser Aluminum Posts Lower Earnings; Sees Stabilization

Orange County Business Journal - 29 Apr 2009

By Dan Beighley

Orange County Business Journal Staff

Foothill Ranch-based Kaiser Aluminum Corp. posted lower first-quarter earnings as metal prices and demand slumped. But the company said it expects sales to stabilize.

After adjusting for one-time items, Kaiser earned $28 million for the quarter, down 26%, or $38 million, from a year earlier.

Sales for the quarter were $266 million, down 33% from a year earlier.

Kaiser shapes aluminum into custom pieces for the defense and auto industries.

The company reported record shipments of its aerospace and defense products, which were up 17%.

Sales to its transportation and industrial customers were off 44%.

"We are cautiously optimistic that demand and supply chain inventories are beginning to stabilize for these applications,'' Chief Executive Jack Hockema said.

Kaiser said that it continued to reduce its inventory, where it recorded a $9 million write-down due to a decline in metal prices.

It also posted a $4 million loss on derivatives, which it uses for hedging.

For the quarter, the company invested $22 million in improvement projects, including its new operation in Kalamazoo, Mich., which it expects to come into operation early next year.

Qatalum smelter 73% completed: Hydro

Gulf Times - 29 Apr 2009

Norsk Hydro yesterday said its $5.6bn Qatalum smelter in Qatar was 73% completed at the end of the first quarter, and is on schedule to start up. S & P analyst Christine Tiscareno said she sees the startup of the huge plant as a turning point for Hydro. "Qatalum is productive at current aluminum metals prices of between $1,400-1,500 a tonne," she said.

Dutch aluminum producer bearish on light metal market

Purchasing.com - 4/29/2009

By Tom Stundza

Vimetco: Infrastructure spending will impact aluminum in 15 months

It could take as long as 15 months before the world aluminum industry starts to benefit from the numerous stimulus packages designed to kick-start ailing economies, suggests Vimetco, the Netherlands-based international aluminum producer.

Aluminum demand has suffered globally in recent months because of the global economic downturn and, especially, depressed manufacturing in key automotive and aerospace markets.

Demand for aluminum is expected to fall by 2%-3% in 2009, with "no relief" for aluminum prices in the first half, Vimetco says: "A sizeable inventory surplus is expected to grow throughout 2009, with aluminum prices remaining depressed until inventory levels start falling."

Dow Jones Newswire this week reports that Vimetco has closed 40%, or 395,000 metric tons, of its global aluminum production capacity in the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, China, Guinea and Sierra Leone due to weak macroeconomic prices and poor demand. The aluminum spot market is currently down 59% at 63Ę/lb since peaking at $1.53 last July.

The Dow Jones story says Vimetco believes actions taken by governments to support local and global economies will play an "influential, if ambivalent" role for the aluminum industry in 2009.

"On the one hand support for domestic production in excess of current demand may lead to increases in inventory levels and further pressure on prices," Vimetco says. "On the other hand, several governments have promised very large stimulus packages, mainly focused on infrastructure, which will increase demand for aluminum. However, this could take 12-15 months until the aluminum industry begins to feel benefits."

DJ Norsk Hydro Says China Aluminum Imports Unsustainable

MarketWatch (press release) - April 29, 2009

LONDON, Apr 29, 2009 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- The current high level of primary aluminum imports into China is unsustainable because rising capacity there will push down domestic prices and make local material cheaper, Norway's Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY.OS) said Wednesday.

China, the world's largest aluminum producer, has followed other major producers in curtailing output due to slumping demand and weak prices, but a recovery in prices is expected to see some of this restart, the company noted.

At the same time, newly commissioned capacity is expected to come on stream in China during the next several months, increasing downward pressure on Shanghai aluminum prices.

"As a result, the higher level of imports of primary aluminum into the Chinese market is not expected to be sustainable," the company added.

Global primary aluminum consumption, excluding China, could decline by 15% to 20% in 2009 from a consumption level of 25 million metric tons in 2008, Norsk Hydro said. "Supported by economic stimulus and recovery packages, Chinese consumption of primary aluminum in 2009 is expected to be in line with 2008 levels of 12.5 million tons," it added.

-By Andrea Hotter, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9413; andrea.hotter@dowjones.com

DJ Norsk Hydro: May Make Neuss Smelter Closure Permanent

Wed. April 29, 2009; Posted: 02:51 AM

LONDON, The temporary closure of the Neuss aluminum smelter in Germany could be made permanent if the plant looks likely to remain a high-cost operation, its owner Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY.OS) said Wednesday.

A decision to temporarily close the 230,000-metric-ton-a-year smelter, which will be fully curtailed by the end of the second quarter, was made in February.

"If it becomes apparent that we will not be able to resume production at the plant without sustainable profits over time, it will be necessary to consider permanent closure of the operations," Norsk Hydro said. "A permanent shutdown would require substantial additional closure costs mainly for termination of the work force," it added.

-By Andrea Hotter, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9413; andrea.hotter@dowjones.com

Security from the storm

Commentary by Bartholomeusz

Alumina’s $1 billion capital raising – seven months after a $900 million equity issue – reflects the continuing levels of fear within a resources sector where those than can are desperately trying to put some distance between themselves and their increasingly nervous bankers.

The Alumina issue isn’t a distress raising. While it would be barely at break-even after its corporate costs and tax are deducted from its 40 per cent share of the $US27 million earned by its Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) joint venture with Alcoa in the March quarter, it isn’t losing money and didn’t have to deal with any maturing debt this year.

However, with more than $500 million of facilities maturing in 2009-10 and another $650 million in 2010-11 it would have been imprudent of Alumina not to take advantage of the relatively calm equity markets while they remain open to resource company issues.

The experience of Oz Minerals, where an untimely re-financing left it in the hands of unsympathetic bankers and forced it to off-load most of its assets in adverse conditions, would no doubt have registered on the consciousness of most local mining company boards and managements.

With aluminium prices languishing at levels around 60 per cent below their peak – despite massive production cutbacks totalling well over 20 per cent of industry output – it would have been reckless of Alumina to bet its fate on either benevolent bankers or a metals market recovery.

It presumably would also have occurred to Alumina that if it were seen to be vulnerable to its lenders it would have made itself acutely vulnerable to an opportunistic bid from its joint venture partner, Alcoa, for whom the Alumina interest in AWAC would be the most attractive growth option, and one of the few in the industry where it wouldn’t face anti-trust issues.

While Alcoa has its own troubles – losing $US1.2 billion in the last quarter of 2008 and another $US480 million in the first quarter of this year – its share of AWAC is its best asset and it would love to take out Alumina on the cheap.

The Alumina issue, the $644 million institutional component of which is underwritten, effectively means that, with undrawn but committed facilities, Alumina has dealt with the re-financing risks it faced over the next two financial years, by which time, presumably, conditions in the sector will have improved.

If Alumina is barely profitable, most of the rest of the sector would be haemorrhaging badly. Alcoa and the Chinese moved early to slash production and costs. Alcoa’s response to the implosion in commodity prices is in its third iteration, with tens of thousands of jobs cut, capital expenditures more than halved and production heavily curtailed.

The AWAC asset base is largely first quartile in terms of costs – its key assets in Australia are first quartile – although overall the portfolio would probably be closer to the 30th percentile than the 25th. The two Brazilian projects (a refinery and a bauxite mine) that are nearing completion will help lower average costs.

The China-inspired boom in commodities brought a lot of high-cost production into the market, production that would be loss-making at current prices and probably marginal even if prices recovered to levels in line with longer-term trends.

When the global economy starts to recover and generates some momentum, the better-positioned of the aluminium groups ought therefore to experience something of a leveraged rebound.

Certainly Alumina will be hoping that’s the case. Its raising is at only $1 a share, a 33 per cent discount to its closing price on Wednesday and an 85 per cent discount on its peak price last year.

That represents very expensive capital, but not only is the raising an entitlement issue to existing shareholders but can be justified on the basis of whatever it costs today is irrelevant compared with the cost of not being able to repay the borrowings maturing over the next two years.

http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Alumina-pd20090430-RL74P?OpenDocument&srcsph

Alcoa, BHP Billiton Reach Agreement in Principle; Alcoa’s Suralco To Acquire Joint Venture Interests of BHP Billiton in Suriname

Your Metal News (press release) - 4/29/2009

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alcoa World Alumina LLC and Billiton Suriname Holdings B.V. have reached an agreement in principle where Suriname Aluminum Company LLC (Suralco), an Alcoa subsidiary, will acquire the bauxite and alumina refining interests of N.V. BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname (BMS), a BHP Billiton subsidiary, in Suriname. Terms are not disclosed.

Suralco and BMS have been participants in mining and refining joint ventures in Suriname since 1984. BMS currently has a 45% interest and Suralco a 55% interest in the joint ventures. Prior to the establishment of the joint ventures, BMS had separately conducted mining operations in the country, while Suralco has been active in Suriname for almost 100 years.

Late in 2008, BHP Billiton informed the government of the Republic of Suriname that it had decided to discontinue its activities in Suriname at year end 2010. "We are pleased that Suralco has agreed to acquire these BMS interests," said Frank Plantenberg, Chief Operating Officer South America BHP Billiton Aluminum. "We have worked with Alcoa in Suriname for a number of years and are confident the company will maintain the joint ventures’ practices and policies for dealing with local communities, employees and the environment."

"While the current conditions affecting the aluminum and alumina industries are challenging, we continue to believe in the long-term value of these businesses and we are pleased to be able to acquire these interests of BHP Billiton in Suriname," said Franklin Feder, President of Alcoa Latin America. "This transaction would not have been possible without the support of the government of the Republic of Suriname, particularly the personal involvement of President R.R. Venetiaan and Natural Resources Minister G.A. Rusland.

"We look forward to further discussions with the government regarding the future of these industries in the country and are confident that arrangements beneficial to the interests of the country and private industry can and will be worked out," said Feder.

Suralco and BMS anticipate completing the transaction by the end of June 2009, subject to any required regulatory approvals. Suralco is a part of Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) a joint venture between Alcoa and Alumina Limited, with Alcoa holding 60 percent.

Kaiser Aluminum Corporation Q1 2009 Earnings Call Transcript

Q1 2009 Earnings Call - April 30, 2009; 1:00 pm ET

Executives
Jack Hockema - Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer
Dan Rinkenberger - Chief Financial Officer & Senior Vice President
Neal West - Vice President & Chief Accounting Officer
Melinda Ellsworth - Vice President, Treasurer

Analysts
Timna Tanners - UBS
Tony Rizzuto - Dahlman Rose
Mark Parr - KeyBanc Capital Markets
Lloyd O’Carroll - Davenport & Company

Presentation :
http://seekingalpha.com/article/134417-kaiser-aluminum-corporation-q1-2009-earnings-call-transcript

Alcoa Reaches Deal To Sell Wire Harness Unit

FOXBusiness - Thursday, April 30, 2009

Matt Andrejczak

MarketWatch Pulse SAN FRANCISCO -- Alcoa Inc. Thursday afternoon said it reached an agreement to sell its wire harness and electrical distribution business to Platinum Equity, a California-based private equity group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close by June and Alcoa plans to record a loss on the sale. Alcoa said in January it planned to sell the business that has operations in 13 countries and employs 17,500 people. The Pittsburgh, Pa.-based aluminum maker wants to sell the rest of its electrical and electronics business, too. Alcoa shares closed up 3% at $9.07.

Copyright © 2009 MarketWatch, Inc

DJ UPDATE:Kaiser: Found No New Power Source For Anglesey Smelter

MarketWatch (press release) - April 30, 2009

LONDON, Apr 30, 2009 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex)

Kaiser Aluminum Corp. (KALU) said Thursday its Anglesey aluminum smelter in Wales, U.K., may continue remelt and casting operations and could produce anodes for use by other smelting facilities after it closes in September.

In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission, Kaiser said although Anglesey will continue to pursue alternative sources of affordable power, as of the date of filing "no sources have been identified that would allow the uninterrupted continuation of smelting operations."

This is because the Wylfa power station in Anglesey, which supplies the 148,000 metric tons a year smelter, is slated to close after the plant's contract with it expires. "Anglesey has worked intensively with government authorities and agencies to find a sustainable alternative to the power supply needs of the smelter, but has been unable to reach a feasible solution," it added.

The smelter in Holyhead is owned 49% by Kaiser with the remainder held by diversified mining giant Rio Tinto PLC (RTP).

Kaiser said Anglesey "continues to evaluate alternative operating activities in line with the needs of the local community and market opportunities, including the potential continuation of remelt and casting operations and the production of anodes for use by other smelting facilities."

Kaiser doesn't expect to receive any dividends from Anglesey in the foreseeable future.

-By Andrea Hotter, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9413; andrea.hotter@dowjones.com