AluNews - September 2011

Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation Announces Upstream Business Leadership Change
EON: Enhanced Online News (press release) - September 30, 2011
FRANKLIN, Tenn.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (NYSE: NOR) (“Noranda” or the “Company”) announced today that Peter J. Hartland has resigned for personal reasons as President of Noranda’s Upstream Business and will be succeeded by Wayne R. Hale. Mr. Hartland will remain with Noranda for a transition period that extends through October 2011.
“We are excited to welcome Wayne as our new Upstream Business President”
“During his tenure at Noranda, Peter’s many contributions have included growing our integrated Upstream Business, improving productivity, implementing positive cultural change and advancing our Company’s mission, values and goals,” said Layle K. (Kip) Smith, Noranda’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We wish Peter the best for his family and personal future success.”
Mr. Hale has over thirty four years experience managing aluminum and chemical businesses and most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Century Aluminum from March 2007 to May 2011. “We are excited to welcome Wayne as our new Upstream Business President,” said Smith. “His deep operational experience and leadership background are great additions to Noranda that will enable a smooth transition and help drive shareholder value creation as we advance our new $140 million CORE productivity program and continue to grow our integrated business platform.”

New furnace cuts emissions
Gladstone Observer - 30-Sep-2011
AS THE Boyne Smelter nears completion of a $685 million upgrade that will allow a new benchmark in productivity and environmental performance, Observer photographer Brenda Strong was taken on a guided tour of the facility.
Ms Strong come out of the tour with a stunning array of images captured in the aluminium smelter.
She said the sheer scale of the smelter made it an incredible place for photography.
"It's about a kilometre long and to see it in an enclosed building and all the cells going all the way down, it was pretty cool," she said.
Boyne Smelters Limited has been in operation since 1982.
It produces more than 550,000 tonnes of aluminium each year.
The aluminium is used across a range of industries including aerospace, mass transportation, automotive, marine, building construction, electricity transmission, wind-power generation, recreation and leisure.
We know not everybody is excited by industrial-scale engineering, but BSL is particularly proud of its latest achievement - a rebuilt furnace.
The smelter currently has three carbon bake furnaces that produce the carbon anodes needed to make aluminium.
BSL has rebuilt one of the existing furnaces and is replacing two others with a new, improved furnace.
The new furnace is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20,000 tonnes a year.
Other emissions will also be significantly reduced.
Earthworks for the new carbon bake furnace began in January 2008 and it is due to be finished in April, 2012.
In 1997, BSL underwent a $1 billion expansion to increase its aluminium production from 260,000 to more than 550,000 tonnes a year.
This work, which is now more than 80% complete, includes construction of the new carbon bake furnace, replacement of overhead cranes, a crane runway upgrade within the reduction lines and an improved alumina transport system to the reduction cells.
BSL says these projects will modernise and extend the life of facility.

Hydropower - Grand Inga - 29-Sep-2011
The proposed annual US$100bn climate change fund, which will be at the heart of many of the debates at the UN climate change talks in Durban in December, will put the spotlight back on the hydropower potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Plans to develop Grand Inga, a hydropower scheme on the Congo River, have been dabbled with for decades, says the World Energy Council’s regional manager from Africa, Latsoucabé Fall. They could come closer to reality with the help of such a fund.
SA is in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with the DRC government (it has been sent to cabinet for approval) which will form the basis of engagement on the scheme.
“The DRC approached SA and said [Grand Inga] could be a legacy project,” says energy department director-general Nelly Magubane. “There is an expectation that other countries will also express their interest.”
The project has the potential to generate 40000MW–45000MW of electricity annually. According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Inga site holds 45% of the DRC’s 100000MW hydropower potential. If it goes ahead the plans are to have transmission lines to SA, Nigeria, Egypt and a number of other countries.
“The whole issue in the power and utility sector in Africa is security of supply,” says Norman Ndaba, Ernst & Young director for power and utilities in Africa. “To the extent that African countries are embarking on massive infrastructure projects, they will need [this project].”
African countries, including SA, have a history with Inga. In 2003, a joint venture company made up of the national power utilities of SA, Namibia, Angola, Botswana and the DRC — called Westcor — was formed and it entered into an agreement with the government of the DRC to develop Inga 3. Each country had a 20% stake. But because it would be some time before the project could start producing, and countries needed power sooner, the grand plans fell by the wayside.
But in 2009, the DRC government changed its mind. According to Fall, the government wanted to prioritise projects that would help grow the country’s economy , including mining projects. Resources giant BHP Billiton had mooted plans for an aluminium smelter, which would use up 2000MW, a possible anchor consumer for Grand Inga.
As well as fuelling the DRC’s economic growth, the Grand Inga project now has an increasingly important place in the long-term provision of clean energy for many African countries, Fall says. “It could save up to 100Mt of carbon dioxide a year.”
Therefore not only would it be eligible for funding from the global climate change fund, but possibly also benefit from the carbon disclosure mechanism and other schemes.
The project could cost up to $80bn ($40bn for generation and $40bn for transmission), says Fall. The funds could come from international institutions like the World Bank and AfDB , climate finance, and investment from the countries involved. “The funding is a huge challenge,” he says.
Magubane says the extent of the transmission lines involved means it would only be viable for SA if the country received 3000MW or more.
There may be a need to build an entirely new transmission network across the continent, she says. She adds that this type of cross-border project could easily attract funding, and that the governments involved would have to provide guarantees. SA’s utility Eskom would then be expected to be part of an offtake agreement, which would entail it receiving and distributing electricity .
But Fall points out that the biggest challenge to Grand Inga is political leadership. “The strong leadership required [to drive the project] doesn’t exist now; the DRC has presidential elections coming up and the country will then have to be stabilised.” It will also require strong political support from all the countries involved and co-ordination among the stakeholders. “If all this were in place, the project could go ahead,” says Fall.

Rio Tinto hiring hundreds of workers in Canada because of modernization projects - 27-Sep-2011
MONTREAL - A couple of years after it laid off 14,000 workers around the world, global mining giant Rio Tinto has launched a mini hiring spree in Canada, mainly due to its modernization projects.
The Anglo-Australian company is actively searching to hire more than 210 workers for mining and manufacturing in alumina, aluminum, iron ore, diamonds and titanium dioxide.
"We launched the campaign to help our ongoing recruitment efforts for our modernization and expansion projects," Rio Tinto spokesman Bryan Tucker said in an email.
Rio Tinto employs more than 13,000 people at 35 sites in Canada.
The company has turned to Facebook and YouTube, posting a four-minute promotional video showing operations such as the Diavik Diamond Mine, Iron Ore Company of Canada, Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane, and Rio Tinto Alcan.
Most of the opportunities advertised on its website are located at regional operations such as mines and smelters in locations between Yellowknife and Labrador.
The largest number of vacancies are in Quebec, where 150 of the 214 positions are located.
Rio Tinto's aluminum division is seeking 49 people in Saguenay, 43 in Montreal, two in Shawinigan and one in Alma. Seven positions are being filled in Kitimat, B.C.
There are also 27 spots with Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium in Sorel and 20 in Havre St. Pierre.
Iron Ore of Canada has 32 positions available in Labrador City and eight in Sept. Iles.
A few other jobs are available in Edmonton, Vancouver, Regina and Thunder Bay, Ont.
"With the broad scope of Rio Tinto's Canadian expansion and modernization projects, we have jobs available for skilled people in a wide variety of disciplines," added Tucker.
Rio Tinto Alcan is spending more than US$1.8 billion this year to continue developing two low-cost aluminum smelters in Quebec and British Columbia and a further US$1.8 million on other projects.
About US1.2 billion has been earmarked to complete the first phase of its AP60 technology pilot plant in Quebec, which received the green light Tuesday from the province's environment department.
Rio Tinto is also spending US$650 million for further construction in preparation for the US$2.5-billion modernization of the Kitimat smelter in British Columbia.
It has also budgeted US$228 million to upgrade the Shipshaw power station in Quebec, US$787 million for underground mining at the Diavik mine in Northwest Territories and US$826 million for an expansion at Iron Ore Company of Canada.
Rio Tinto responded to a collapse in commodity prices in 2008 by reducing its global workforce by 14,000, including 1,100 aluminum jobs. Up to 140 positions were eliminated at the division's Montreal headquarters.
The move included the closure of the Beauharnois smelter near Montreal and output reductions at the Vaudreuil alumina refinery in the Saguenay region, affecting 300 jobs in Quebec. Retirements allowed it to largely avoid layoffs.
Global layoffs included 5,500 direct employees and 8,500 contract jobs designed to save about US$1.2 billion a year.
As the world's second-largest mining company, Rio Tinto is now pitching the ability of recruits to move around its vast organization.
"Now your playground just got even bigger," its website says.
"The Rio Tinto Group finds, mines and processes mineral resources that are essential to make the products that fuel everyday life. We are on every continent with strong representation in Australia, the U.S. and, of course, here in Canada."
Its facilities include mines, refineries, smelters, processing plants, research and development centres, port and rail facilities, technical and sales service centres, hydroelectric power stations and offices.
The hiring spree comes amid reports that Rio Tinto is considering selling some of its aluminum assets in Australia in the wake of the government's plan to introduce a new carbon tax that would raise costs and lower margins.
It owns three refineries, three smelters and two bauxite mines in Australia.
Rio declined to comment or provide any details about a potential impact on Rio Tinto Alcan's Montreal headquarters.

Debu Bhattacharya, building a metal powerhouse
Business Today - 27-Sep-2011
Debnarayan Bhattacharya, popularly known as Debu, is the backbone of Aditya Birla Group's metals business - Hindalco-Novelis, whose revenues, at $16 billion, amount to nearly half the group's total.
He is also the Chairman of Utkal Alumina International Limited and of Aditya Birla Minerals Limited, a wholly owned copper subsidiary of Hindalco in Australia, which runs two copper mines - one in Nifty and the other one in Mt. Gordon.
Bhattacharya quit his fast-track job at Unilever in London to join Hindalco in 1999. He admits it was not an easy decision for him to quit a giant multinational brand like Unilever and join Kumar Mangalam Birla's team. "It was a difficult decision. It was not easy at all. But I must say that I have not regretted since then," says Bhattacharya.
Bhattacharya was not the only one to take such a plunge. A bunch of other professionals also moved to the Aditya Birla Group in the late 1990s to make up Kumar Mangalam Birla's team.
Bhattacharya explains: "At that time, the Indian entrepreneurial drive was missing in Unilever. And having worked very closely in London and Holland, I realised that they are very very risk averse."
He adds: "This group is ambitious and not averse to taking certain calculated risks as long as these are manageable. So that is very attractive," explains Bhattacharya.
What was the biggest risk he has taken in this group? It was the acquisition of Novelis - the world's largest aluminium rolling company - in May 2007, which was four times Hindalco's size then.
Interestingly, Bhattacharya was one of the older people whom Kumar Mangalam Birla had brought into the group. He is 63 and is likely to be around for five more years as the group has a slightly flexible policy on retirement of its senior directors. Till then Bhattacharya is going strong.

Carbonorca waiting for 5000t of calcined coke to resume operations - Venezuela
Business News Americas - 27-Sep-2011
Venezuelan state carbon anode producer Carbonorca is waiting to receive a shipment of 5,000t of calcined coke to get operations back to normal, Sutracarbonorca labor union leader William Hernández told BNamericas.
"It's a shipment that we've been waiting on for several days. Until this raw material arrives, we can't resume production," Hernández said.
Carbon anode production at the company has been halted for more than 50 days due to the lack of inputs, Hernández said last week.
So far this year, operations have been halted for over three months due to lack of inputs such as calcined coke and tar.
Company executives called on workers to resume operations at the plant last week, which is "absurd," according to Hernández. "There are underlying problems such as the lack of raw materials and investments needed for the plant to operate," he said.
Meanwhile, workers at Carbonorca are calling on the government to intervene and review the company's current administration, Hernández said.
"There's a time bomb that's about to explode. Workers are concerned about their job security and how the company is being managed. Production fell 50% in 2010 and so far this year, the decline is more than 50%," Hernández said.
In 2010, the company produced 165,000t.
State heavy industry holding CVG owns 10% of Carbonorca, which is located in eastern Venezuela's Puerto Ordaz city. State aluminum reducers Alcasa and Venalum each hold 45%. Alcasa and Venalum are, in turn, controlled by CVG.

Rio Tinto eyeing Australia aluminum business spin-off:
Reuters - 26-Sep-2011
(Reuters) - Global miner Rio Tinto is considering spinning off part of its Australian aluminum assets as a planned carbon tax would raise costs and lower margins, a local newspaper reported Monday.
Rio has been working with Macquarie Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers to consider its options for the business, the Australian Financial Review said.
Rio Tinto declined to comment on Monday. However, Rio chief financial officer Guy Elliott told investors last week there were some assets in its aluminum portfolio which were not aligned with its strategy.
"These are assets that we would consider divesting if it makes sense. Of course, we would want to achieve good value if we decided to sell them," Elliott told investors, reiterating comments made previously.
"Through the divestment of non-core assets, together with aggressive targets for cost reduction and production creep, plus targeted investment in growth, we are confident that the aluminum business will achieve a 40 percent EBITDA margin."
Rio's aluminum business in Australia is made up of three refineries, three smelters and two bauxite mines, the paper said, adding Rio would hold onto the mines as they offer the highest margins.
Rio last week told investors it plans to achieve 40 percent earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization margin from the aluminum business through the sale of two non-specified assets, the paper said.
Rio Tinto shares were trading 3.6 percent weaker on Monday at A$60.37.
(Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram and Michael Smith; Editing by Balazs Koranyi)

Guyana opposition warns foreign bauxite firms
AFP - 26-Sep-2011
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Opposition politicians in Guyana threatened to kick out two bauxite mining companies from Russia and China if they flout labor laws.
Alliance For Change, the country's second largest opposition party, on Sunday told residents of the eastern bauxite mining town of Linden that Russia's UC Rusal and China's Bosai Minerals would have to abide by the laws or face tough reprisals.
"We know that whenever we bring them in, they have to abide by the labor laws of the country, not like Rusal and Bosai... They don't abide, we are going to ensure that they abide or they will be kicked out of the country," said AFC presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan.
Russian aluminium giant UC Rusal has been at loggerheads with the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union for more than two years over the controversial layoff of 120 workers who had demanded better pay.
The union complains that the government has been too close to the companies and reluctant to impose sanctions on them.
In 2008, Bosai Minerals rescinded letters of dismissal, suspension and warning that had been issued to several workers who had walked off the job.
Ramjattan said investors must respect Guyana's sovereignty and "must abide by our labor laws first and foremost."
Guyana's 65-seat parliament will be dissolved on Tuesday, marking the end of President Bharrat Jagdeo's five-year term. Elections will be held in late November or early December.
The country?s political landscape is largely split between descendants of African slaves and indentured servants from India.

Sixty more pots shut down
Business Standard - 26-Sep-2011
Faced with further cut in power supply, the National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has shut down another 60 aluminium making pots at its smelter plant here.
With this, a total of 120 pots have now gone out of operation out of 960 pots in the smelter plant. The company had shut down 60 pots two weeks back due to power problems.
As a result, aluminium production of the company has gone down to 1,050 tonne per day from the normal level of more than 1,200 tonne, said a company source. In money terms, the loss is estimated at Rs two crore per day.
Currently the aluminium major is facing shortage of 200 Mw power as the captive power plant (CPP) of the company, located close to its smelter plant at Angul, is receiving 2,000 tonne less coal per day compared to the normal offtake. “While we need about 12000 tonne of coal to operate six 110 Mw units of CPP, we are getting an average of 8000 tonne from Talcher coalfield. We make up the gap by using the imported coal and procuring coal from other sources like e-auction,” said an official of the company.
The CPP has ten 110 Mw units, but it runs eight units keeping two units on stand-by. But due to coal shortage, the company has shut down two more units. Even the six units, which are running, are not operating on full load due to coal scarcity.
Despite efforts by Nalco authorities to improve coal supply after the shutdown of 60 pots earlier this month, no headway has been made so far.Unless coal supply from Talcher improves shortly, the company the crisis may further precipitate with the company being forced to shut down more pots.
However, an official of Mahanadi Coalfield Ltd (MCL) which supplies coal to Nalco from its Talcher mines, said, steps are being taken to supply more coal to Nalco as per their linkage. It has so far met 96 per cent of linkage coal, he added.
Nalco executive director P R Chaudhury said, “Things have started improving on Sunday with the arrival of better quality coal which will enhance the efficiency of the power plant. The pot shut down is a temporary measure and these will be restored soon after coal supply position improves after the monsoon. The power production at CPP has also increased with availability of better coal.”

Qatalum smelter plant reaches full production
Reuters Africa - 24-Sep-2011
DUBAI, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Qatar's joint-venture aluminium smelter plant Qatalum achieved its full production capacity of 585,000 tonnes in September, the company said in a statement on Saturday.
"We are excited to be entering this new phase at Qatalum, moving from the ramp-up phase to full production. It has been a challenging goal that both owners have been striving towards," Qatalum CEO Tom Petter Johansen said.
"We've experienced setbacks, but these have contributed in creating the current strong team that, together, will bring operational excellence to the forefront."
The Qatalum plant, a 50/50 joint venture of Norsk Hydro with Qatar Petroleum, was launched in 2009 with a design capacity of 585,000 tonnes of primary aluminium but has been hobbled by technical problems.
Qatalum's first phase production capacity of 585,000 metric tonnes per year from 704 cells will enable Qatar to contribute a significant portion towards the Gulf's aluminium production, Qatalum said. (Reporting by Martina Fuchs)

LME ponders bids from suitors
The Independent - 24 September 2011
The London Metal Exchange, the world's top market for industrial metals such as copper and aluminum, is considering selling itself after receiving bid approaches.
The LME, which is owned by the trading houses and banks that use the market, said it was being advised by investment bank Moelis & Company, but declined to identify its suitors.
"The London Metal Exchange (LME) has received several expressions of interest with regard to potential strategic transactions," a statement said.
"The board... will begin a formal process which may or may not lead to an acceptable offer for the company being received."
The exchange said it would launch a formal process but warned it might not result in an offer for the company.
The interest shown in the LME, where trading volumes are currently at record levels, reflects the importance of the exchange in global commodities markets.
The LME accounts for 80 per cent of traded volume in global metal futures transactions – about $46bn a day – and its prices set the benchmarks for global miners and consumers.

Hindalco lines up $5b for 3 greenfield projects - 23-Sep-2011
Hindalco Industries plans to invest $5 billion (Rs 24,903 crore) in its three greenfield projects that include Mahan Aluminium, Aditya Aluminium and Utkal Alumina.
The Aditya Birla group flagship has already done financial closure for two of these projects and the company is planning to raise around $2 billion (Rs 9,961.3 crore) debt for the Aditya Aluminium project. “Our greenfield projects — Mahan Aluminium, Aditya Aluminium and Utkal Alumina — are at an advance stage of execution with a capital outlay of $5 billion. There has been a delay in execution of these projects due to environmental issues and delay in approvals,” Hindalco Industries chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said at the company’s 52nd annual general meeting here on Friday.
The Mahan Aluminium project, based in Madhya Pradesh, is an aluminium smelter-cum-power plant of 359 ktpa and 900 mw captive thermal power plant. Aditya alumina and aluminium project is a greenfield integrated aluminium complex. It includes a 4.2 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) bauxite mine, 1.5 mtpa alumina refinery at Kansariguda and 359 ktpa smelter at Lapanga. The refinery is expected to produce 2 mtpa of alumina within three years of its start.
Birla said the company has already closed financial transactions in excess of $7 billion (Rs 34,864.5 crore) including the financial closure of Utkal Alumina and Mahan Aluminium projects. It has earmarked capital expenditure of Rs 10,000 crore in 2011-12.
Birla said once all the projects are commissioned, the company would have an aluminium capacity of 1.7 million tonnes with six million tonnes alumina refining capacity. “We are on the threshold of significantly increasing our alumina refining and aluminium smelting capacity. Revenues and earnings before interest taxes and depreciation stream from these projects would begin with the projects going on stream. The timely commissioning of these projects is a key to our future profitability,” he said.
Sunirmal Talukdar, CFO, Hindalco, said, “We will not raise the $2 billion required for the Aditya Aluminium project immediately, as the market is choppy. But we will raise it during this financial year. At present, the company has $1 billion (Rs 4,980 crore) cash in hand.”
Talukdar said the Mahan Smelter, which was expected to be operational in October 2011, has been delayed by around two months and will now come on-stream in December. “Utkal Alumina has been delayed by almost one-and-a-half years,” he said.

Guangxi Yinhai Aluminium cuts total capacity by 190000 mt/year
Platts - 22-Sep-2011
China's Guangxi Yinhai Aluminium has slashed its total primary smelting capacity of 450,000 mt/year by about 190,000 mt/year on the back of prevailing power shortages, a company source said Friday.
The South Central Chinese producer had cut capacity by 50% at its 200,000 mt/year plant in Baise city by September 18, which was then followed by a near 40% cutback at its 250,000 mt/year plant in Laibin city.
The producer had received notice of power cuts in August, and started gradually shutting down potlines in mid-September, after orders were issued by the government last week to effect the cutbacks.
"It's all done now and we don't expect to have any further cuts," the source said.
With the cuts, the producer now expects to reach an overall actual output of about 370,000 mt in 2011 from its two plants combined, which is in line with output in 2010, but down from an earlier targeted 420,000 mt for 2011.
"We can probably produce about 170,000 mt from the Baise plant and 200,000 mt from the Laibin plant this year," the source said.
The earliest the producer was expected to resume capacity was likely be in April-May 2012, when the wet season begins again, as the winter season was also a period of reduced power supply in the region.
Meanwhile, Guangxi Yinhai will be offering spot alumina for sale in the domestic market in October-November on the back of its reduced smelter consumption.
"We will be selling some of our term contract supply on the spot market since we will be using less for the coming months. We expect to have 20,000-30,000 mt of alumina for sale in October-November," the source said.
"The recent smelter cuts in South China will pressure alumina prices in this region, so we're planning to offer about Yuan 2,800/mt, and probably trade at Yuan 2,800-2,750/mt," he added.
Current alumina offers in South China were at Yuan 2,800-2,850/mt ex-works Guangxi.

Aluminium company Rusal fears effect of carbon tax - 23-Sep-2011
The world's largest aluminium company, Rusal, has launched a scathing attack on the Gillard Government's carbon tax and emissions scheme, saying it puts its key Queensland project at risk.
In a submission to the Federal Government, Rusal said the Clean Energy Legislative Package - the carbon tax and Emissions Trading Scheme - was a threat to the viability of the Russian group's major investment in Australia.
Rusal owns 20 per cent of the giant Queensland Alumina Refinery (QAL) at Gladstone, the second-largest alumina refinery in the world, which employs 1800 people and ships alumina to Siberia for smelting.
Rusal Australia's chairman John Hannagan said QAL would pay about $30 million to $40 million in the first year as a result of the tax.
"Over the next 10 years that could be nearly $400 million, which would have been better spent going to expansion of the plant, future energy and co-gen opportunities," he said.
Mr Hannagan said the carbon tax threatened the long- term viability of the refinery and could stymie any expansion opportunities.
He said QAL had experienced a tough decade, largely because domestic coal prices, gas and electricity had risen sharply and the company was a big energy user The strong Australian dollar had also hurt but he said the company remained profitable because of good management and the skill of the workforce.
He said the Government's impost on Australian CO2 emissions contained in the Clean Energy legislation would penalise local industry because most overseas competitors did not have such an impost.
The Government has recognised that the competitiveness of industries such as alumina refining will be adversely affected by the carbon tax and has introduced partial compensation but Mr Hannagan said the method of compensation was "highly prejudicial".
"Rusal believes that the proposed methodology of the tax and compensation regime for alumina refining incorporated in the (legislation) is quite outrageous and will put QAL at risk," he said.
A spokesperson for Climate Change Minister Greg Combet defended the legislation and compensation yesterday, saying the government's $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program had been designed to support industries such as alumina production while providing incentives for those industries to become more efficient.
The spokesman said alumina qualified for the highest rate of assistance, an allegation Mr Hannagan denied, saying QAL would receive 25 per cent less than other industries and the Government was "fudging it yet again".

Alcasa signs deal with Italian company to design aluminum extrusion plant
Platts - 22-Sep-2011
Venezuela's CVG-Alcasa has signed an agreement with Italy's Predieri Metalli to perform the basic design and engineering work on a new aluminum extrusion facility at the Puerto Ordaz-based smelter, Alcasa said Thursday.
The contract was signed last week and engineers from the Italian firm have already arrived in Venezuela to begin review the site for the plant, an Alcasa official said.
The new plant, with projected installed capacity of 40,000 mt of aluminum profiles, will be installed where Alcasa's potlines 1 and 2 operated before they were torn down in early 2010. The extrusion facility's cost was previously estimated at between $100-$150 million and would form part of a multi-project $403 million contract Alcasa is negotiating with the Aluminum Corporation of China.
"Once we obtain the results of the engineering design work we will present that to Chinalco," Alcasa president Elio Sayago said in a statement. The 170,000 mt/year Alcasa smelter forms part of the CVGs 600,000 mt/year primary aluminum complex in Puerto Ordaz.

Aluminium Bahrain falls on gas price rise
The National - Sep 23, 2011
Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) plunged to its lowest level on record yesterday after it said the price it paid for natural gas would increase by 33 per cent.
The price rise, ordered by Bahrain's state-run energy supplier, will add US$85 million to the company's costs, it said in a filing.
Alba's shares dropped 8.1 per cent to 0.8 dinars, the lowest level since November 30 last year, the day of listing on the Bahrain Bourse. Alba is down 9 per cent since the time of listing.
The company currently pays US$1.50 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) for gas it uses to produce more than 870,000 tonnes a year of high-grade aluminium, a fraction of the cost paid by competitors in other parts of the world. As of January next year, Alba will have to pay $2.25 per mmbtu.
Analysts say such subsidies in the Middle East are unsustainable because product prices are often lower than the cost of production.
JPMorgan yesterday cut its Alba rating to "underweight" from "overweight" with a price estimate of 0.38 dinar.
The price of aluminium was down almost 2 per cent yesterday to $2,296 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange after the US Federal Reserve gave a grim outlook for the US economy with "serious downside risks". This month, Laurent Schmitt, Alba's chief executive, said he estimated aluminium to trade at about $2,500 per tonne.
The metal has fallen 12.5 per cent in the past six months.
Last month, Alba reported a 22 per cent drop in second-quarter profit on costs associated with job cuts.
Net income fell to $185m from $237m a year earlier. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased to $175m from $147m.
Bahrain was rocked by protests that broke out in February, as civil uprisings in the Arab world ousted leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Commodity-rich nations seek bigger slice of the pie
The Australian - 23-Sep-2011
COMMODITY exporting countries around the world are pursuing a bigger share of the windfall profits being made by miners and oil corporations as the price boom keeps rolling.
This is a key conclusion of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), the Australian government's risk insurer, in its survey of global risk developments published yesterday.
It means Australian miners will face policy changes not only at home but in many other countries where they operate.
"The options include greater taxes and royalties, state ownership stakes in ventures, use of state-owned mining firms, and contract revisions." EFIC says.
The report warns that some moves could force mine closures, with Venezuela causing most investor alarm but South Africa and Zimbabwe also being watched closely.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez signed a decree last month to nationalise the goldmining industry, especially hitting Rusoro, a Toronto-listed company of Russian origin.
There, three companies are involved in arbitration over previous expropriations, including Canada's Crystallex following the takeover of its Las Cristinas mine.
EFIC says: "Limits on exports have also been making miners unhappy," although they have been relaxed to allow exports of up to 50 per cent of total production rather than 30 per cent.
In South Africa, the Youth League of the ruling ANC party has called for mine nationalisation, but the government is instead pursuing a revised Mining Charter to push firms to achieve 26 per cent "black equity" by 2014.
The government has also revived a dormant state company, the African Exploration, Finance & Mining Corporation, to explore and mine. And there is a call for a super-profits tax.
In Zimbabwe, the government last month wrote to 13 foreign-owned mining, banking and tobacco firms asking how they planned to meet a September 30 deadline to transfer 51 per cent equity to black ownership.
Impala Platinum, the world's No 2 platinum producer, says it is in the middle of negotiations with the government on how to satisfy this requirement.
In Peru, a new windfall profits tax has been introduced after negotiation with industry, alongside legislation requiring mining companies to consult indigenous communities.
EFIC says that "an attractive feature" of the tax, intended to maintain competition with Chile, is that it falls on profits, not revenue, and will be applied on a sliding scale according to price levels.
In Guinea, which has attracted strong investor interest thanks to massive bauxite and iron ore reserves, a new democratically elected government let by President Alpha Conde is reviewing mining contracts and recently announced a new mining code -- reflecting, EFIC says, "widespread public anger over a series of deals concluded by a previous military junta".
The new code will seek to raise the state's interest in mining contracts from 15 per cent to 35 per cent, most bought at market value. It is unclear whether this will apply to existing concessions.
Guinea, says EFIC, "looks set to confirm concessions held by Rio and Vale in the giant Simandou iron ore deposit -- as well as approve Rio's Simfer joint venture with Chinalco".
Mozambique, also revising its mining code, is likely to raise royalties and taxes on new mines, claim a 10-20 per cent stake in "strategic" projects for the state mining firm, and cancel the licences of firms that fall behind their development schedule.
Tanzania's government is considering a windfall profits tax and higher royalties to fund a five-year development plan.

Rusal Denies Is In Talks To Build Smelter In Iran
Fox Business - 22-Sep-2011
MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- United Co. Rusal (0486.HK), the world's largest aluminum producer, Thursday denied a report that it is in talks to build a plant in Iran but said that it was interested in the country.
"Rusal is constantly examining various opportunities and Iran is one of numerous options for examination," the company said in a written comment. "There are no exact plans and the company doesn't hold any project discussions in this country."
Russian business daily Kommersant reported Thursday that Rusal was in talks with the state-run Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, on building an aluminum smelter in Iran with an annual production capacity of up to 375,000 metric tons. The newspaper cited the protocol of a meeting of the Russian-Iranian commission on trade and economic cooperation, which took place Sept. 11.
Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones Newswires

Kirkvine reopening date in doubt
Jamaica Observer - 22-Sep-2011
Mandeville, Manchester — UC Rusal's country manager for Jamaica, Igor Dorofeev, remained doubtful yesterday about the Government's projection for a reopening of the Windalco Kirkvine alumina plant next month.
Pressed by journalists to give his company's timeline on reopening of the Manchester plant, Dorofeev said: "I cannot say... (but) it takes about a month to shut down a plant and it takes at least two months to restart it".
Jamaica's Minister of Energy and Mining Clive Mullings reportedly told journalists last Friday that "we expect and hope that the plant will be reopened in the month of October."
Mullings reportedly cautioned that volatility in the bauxite sector and the wider global economy could affect the timetable for the plant's reopening.
Dorofeev appeared to suggest that UC Rusal, the Russia-based aluminium giant which is the biggest player in Jamaica's bauxite/alumina sector, would not be in a position to give a restart date for Kirkvine until the conclusion of ongoing negotiations with the government.
But he confirmed that reopening of Jamaica's largest alumina company Alpart in Nain, St Elizabeth, now 100 per cent owned by Rusal following the recent acquisition of outstanding shares, would not be possible until next year, even with speedy conclusion of talks with government.
Alpart and Kirkvine were shut down in early 2009 as a result of the global recession which sent global metal prices plummeting. The decades-old plants were also negatively affected by inefficiency in the use of expensive petroleum.

Twin Towers brought down by molten aluminum, says scientist
TG Daily - 21-Sep-2011
An international materials technology conference in San Diego has been given a new explanation for the explosions heard within the Twin Towers just before their collapse.
The explosions could have been caused by a mixture of water from sprinkler systems and molten aluminium from melted aircraft hulls, and led to the buildings' collapse.
There have been widespread conspiracy theories that someone - take your pick who - had placed explosives in the buildings. The explosions had been taken by many to contradict theories that the collapse was caused by overheated steel beams.
Christian Simensen of SINTEF Materials and Chemistry believes it's overwhelmingly likely that the two aircraft were trapped inside an insulating layer of building debris within the skyscrapers.
If so, he says, it was the aircraft hulls rather than the buildings themselves that absorbed most of the heat from the burning aircraft fuel.
The heat melted the aluminium of the aircraft hulls, he says, which then flowed down through staircases and gaps in the floor. As it did, it would have encountered water - with devastating results.
"Both scientific experiments and 250 reported disasters suffered by the aluminium industry have shown that the combination of molten aluminium and water releases enormous explosions," he says.
"I regard it as extremely likely that it was these explosions that made the skyscrapers collapse by tearing out part of the internal structure, and that this caused the uppermost floors of the buildings to fall and crush the lower parts."
The official report on the causes of the collapse concluded that all three buildings - World Trade center 1,2 and 7 - was caused by heating and the failure of structural steel beams in the centre of the buildings.
"I believe that it is overwhelmingly probable that the theories regarding the cause of the collapse of WTC1 and WTC2 are wrong, but that the report very likely came to the correct conclusion as regards WTC7," says Simensen.
"The federal government commission did not take sufficiently into account the fact that the aircraft brought 30 tonnes of aluminium into each of the two towers."
Alcoa Aluminium carried out an experiment under controlled conditions, in which 20 kilos of aluminium smelt were allowed to react with 20 kilos of water, to which some rust was added.
"The explosion destroyed the entire laboratory and left a crater 30 metres in diameter," says Simensen.
"Given that the amount of aluminium involved was large in comparison with the quantity of water, and since rust was probably also present, I believe that it is highly likely that the building collapsed as a result of a series of extremely energy-rich aluminium-water explosions."

Rusal Plans 375000-Ton Aluminum Plant in Iran, Kommersant Says
Bloomberg - 21-Sep-2011
United Co. Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminum maker, plans to build a plant in Iran with an output equal to nine percent of its existing production capacity, Kommersant reported, citing a government document.
Rusal and the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization are discussing the project, the Moscow-based newspaper said, citing a protocol from a meeting of an Iranian-Russian economic cooperation council.
The proposed plant will have a production capacity of 375,000 tons and may cause Rusal to lose its access to the U.S. market because of U.S. sanctions against Iran, Kommersant said. The U.S. accounts for almost 10 percent of Rusal’s sales, the newspaper added.
To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

Alcoa restructures midstream segment - 21-Sep-2011
Aluminum maker Alcoa .. (NYSE: AA) is reorganizing one of its four business segments away from a regional structure and to a structure based on end-users.
Effective immediately, the company’s Global Rolled Products segment will be based on five different global markets — aerospace, ground transportation, packaging, consumer electronics and defense — instead of the previous structure around geographic region, the company said in a statement.
Helmut Wieser, executive vice president and group president, Global Rolled Projects, will lead the segment that also will focus on growth opportunities in China, Russia, Brazil and the Middle East.
“We see very favorable trends in these markets,” Wieser said in a written statement. “Our new structure will allow us to capitalize on the growth ahead and profitably gain share. We will do this through better customer focus, global product platforms and by taking regional resources and redeploying them to support global market initiatives.”
Alcoa Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said these midstream businesses should have better returns by turning to a market approach as opposed to the regional approach.
Under the new arrangement the company announced the following executive organization:
Mark Vrablec is now president, global, aerospace, ground transportation and industrial and specialty products. He was most recently president of Alcoa China rolled products.
Andrey Donets is now president, global packaging, working with food and beverage markets. He was most recently president of Alcoa Russia.
Jiming Zhu is now president, consumer electronics, in addition to president, China rolled products.
David Dobson remains president, Alcoa defense
Maxim Smirnov is now acting president, Alcoa Russia, taking over for Donets. He was previously chief financial officer of Alcoa Russia.

Kirkvine bauxite plant could reopen next month
Jamaica Observer - 21-Sep-2011
JAMAICA'S bauxite/alumina industry may be making a comeback soon as the Kirkvine mining plant in Manchester could reopen next month.
Minister of Energy and Mining Clive Mullings last Friday disclosed that the Cabinet was scheduled to consider a proposal yesterday that could lead to the Kirkvine plant's reopening.
"We expect and hope that the plant will be reopened in the month of October," Mullings said at a press conference at his ministry.
However, he cautioned that there was volatility in the bauxite sector and in the Eurozone itself that could affect the timetable for the plant's reopening.
Mullings also disclosed that the 35 per cent stake in the Alpart plant owned by Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company Norsk Hydro has been sold to the Russian entity UC Rusal for US$46 million.
Norsk Hydro, in a release on Friday, said UC Rusal — the world's top aluminium producer — will own all the shares in Alpart when the transaction is completed in October.
Operations in the Alpart bauxite mines and the alumina refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth, with a production capacity of around 1.65 million tonnes alumina per year, have been shut down since 2009 due to over-capacity in the alumina market.
Mullings said the chairman of Norsk Hydro is to visit Jamaica to express his appreciation for the collaboration and assistance with Jamaica since 1989 when the company acquire shares in Alpart.
Mullings said Norsk Hydro indicated that they will be focusing on their assets in Brazil. "He (Norsk Hydro's chairman) was at pains to point out that it's not a question about any doubts about Jamaica, but they were in fact a minority partner in Alpart, and they are concentrating all their efforts in Brazil," the minister stated.
Also, Mullings disclosed that there were "two firm offers on the table" for the sale of the 45 per cent stake in the Jamalco plant currently held by Government through Clarendon Alumina Productions.
He said the offers, from the United States aluminum producer Alcoa and Swiss-based company Glencore, are to be considered by Cabinet next week.

Ghana to begin feasibility studies establishing downstream aluminium project
Ghana Business News - 20-Sep-2011
The government of Ghana through the Ministry of Energy (MoEn) and the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenesjay of Trinidad and Tobago and Sural C.A. of Venezuela to conduct feasibility studies towards the establishment of a Downstream Aluminium Project.
The project will be located in Tema, Ghana’s harbour city.
“This Aluminium Downstream Project to be located in Tema will produce Continuous Cast Electrical & Alloy Grade Rods, Sheets and SANGSTM Automotive Parts that will create 450 direct and 900 indirect jobs. The Plant will convert liquid aluminium from the VALCO Smelter into high value added products,” says the Energy Ministry in a statement on its website September 13, 2011.
According to the statement, the objectives and aims of the project are to create both direct and indirect jobs, establish Ghana as an important transformation center for aluminium, export high value added products and develop other downstream and support industries.
The Ministry noted that “A core group of operational personnel from Ghana will be trained in Sural facilities to adequately and safely operate all the equipment. It is the hope of Government that Ghanaians would be provided with the opportunities to participate in all roles, at all levels and in all activities relating to the operations of the company.”
“As a country we could not have been more spot-on in considering our oil and gas find as a key to powering an Integrated Aluminium Industry that can create thousands of jobs and increase Government revenues for national development,” it says.
By Ekow Quandzie

Alcoa says carbon tax could lead to redundancies at Victorian smelters
FEN - 21-Sep-2011
Alcoa officials are concerned they might be forced to lay-off staff at their two Victorian aluminium smelters next year, as a result of $40 million of extra costs they’ll be facing every year under the proposed carbon tax.
The US-owned aluminium giant was talking to Victorian Treasurer Kim Wells this week, about worries that the carbon tax could lead to further job losses in Australia’s manufacturing industry – especially if the state of the Australian dollar doesn’t improve for exporters.
The Australian reported that Alcoa estimates it will face a whopping $40 million a year of extra costs under the scheme, even though the government has attempted to lessen the burden through its $9.2 billion carbon tax package for manufacturers.
Alcoa, which is Victoria’s largest exporter of aluminium products, will likely be among the hardest-hit manufacturers under the tax.
According to the report, Alcoa’s local smelters use extremely large amounts of emissions-intensive brown-coal electricity during production, which is precisely where the company will be hit.
The metal sector is already bleeding jobs, with Australia's BlueScope Steel announcing 1,000 people would be made redundant from its number six blast furnace at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, and its Western Port hot strip mill, east of Melbourne – the latter of the two sites closing for good.
OneSteel, our second-largest steelmaker, also announced redundancies last month, with 400 workers being laid-off at its manufacturing and distribution operations.
Like Alcoa, BlueScope Steel and OneSteel flagged some of the toughest manufacturing business conditions on record, including: threats from imports; the high Australian dollar hurting its export business; and other rising manufacturing costs in Australia, including electricity and taxes.

Rio says demand holding up despite softer markets
Reuters UK - 20-Sep-2011
(Reuters) - Rio Tinto (RIO.L) has seen demand holding up in recent weeks despite signs of nervousness among customers, and the miner told investors on Tuesday that low client inventories meant the impact of market jitters on its profits would be limited.
September, after the traditional summer lull in Europe, is a key month for producers and Rio Chief Executive Tom Albanese told investors the group's order books were full.
"We are seeing softer markets than we would have, even a few months ago. Customers are more cautious, but demand is not unwinding as some would fear," he told investors and analysts in a seminar focussed on the group's energy and copper divisions.
"While there are signs of nervousness, the lack of inventory in the supply chain means the impact of current economic concerns on our business will be limited, unless of course financial markets substantially deteriorate."
Albanese reiterated Rio was confident in the long-term prospects for demand, with appetite for copper, aluminium and iron ore expected to double in the next two decades.
The miner said it had seen evidence of destocking in China and slowing growth rates, but said a policy-induced hard-landing there remained "unlikely this year."
Albanese added his voice, however, to warnings on supply constraints hitting the industry.
Miners across the board have warned of barriers to the expansion of supply as companies, particularly at the smaller end of the scale, are hit by funding and other constraints, including strikes and disruption related to labour shortages.
BHP Billiton (BHP.AX) (BLT.L) said last month the market was overestimating the ability of the industry to bring on new mines.
"Permitting delays, labour and equipment shortages and technically challenging ore bodies are all contributing factors," Albanese said.
Copper has been one of the worst hit commodities, as miners face higher disruption rates, deeper mines, declining grades and increased sovereign risk.
Rio Tinto estimates 56 percent of copper supply will be in countries with high or medium sovereign risk in 2020, compared to an already increased 46 percent in 2010.
Rio is expecting to boost production of copper, its second most important division, after 2011, as grades improve and it begins commercial production from the Oyu Tolgoi project in 2013.
Oyu Tolgoi is 66 percent owned by Ivanhoe Mines with the remainder owned by the Mongolian government. Rio, which has invested $3 billion (1 billion pounds) in the Oyu Tolgoi project over the past five years, owns 48.5 percent of Ivanhoe and has said it could increase that further.
Higher prices have helped Rio offset the impact of weaker copper production in the first six months of 2011, as it is hit along with peers by the impact of lower grades.
The miner said on Tuesday that it had increased resources at its Kennecott Utah Copper Bingham Canyon Mine, where it aims to increase the life of the mine with a $2 to $3 billion expansion.
New technology would also allow it to boost copper production, Rio said, with developments including a new tunnel-boring system to be piloted at the end of next year.
Rio said Australian coal, where production was battered along with other miners by bad weather at the start of the year, has largely recovered from the floods and is ramping up to a compound annual growth rate of over six percent to 2015.
The miner also told investors over $4 billion of its $7 billion share buy-back programme had been completed. It has reduced debt to $7.6 billion at the end of August, down by $1 billion since the end of June.
(Reporting by Clara Ferreira-Marques; Editing by Anthony Barker)

Chinese aluminium smelters to keep low term alumina imports
Reuters - 20-Sep-2011
(Reuters) - China's aluminium smelters may keep imports of raw material alumina under yearly contracts low next year as prices rise and domestic production increases, industry sources said on Tuesday.
Term alumina to China for 2012 shipments is being indicated at about 15.5 to 16 percent of the price of primary aluminium on the London Metal Exchange after India's state-run National Aluminium Co Ltd sold 300,000 tonnes at about 16 percent last week.
Major Chinese importers have paid 14.8-15.5 percent for 2011 shipments of Australian alumina on a free-on-board basis versus 14.5-15 percent in 2010.
"Having considered the Nalco deal, alumina from Australia should be 15.5-15.6 percent," a trader at an international trading house said, of 2012 shipments from Australia, the most popular origin to Chinese smelters.
Chinese aluminium smelters have so far been unwilling to accept the proposed range and are seeking to import at 15 percent, the trader said.
"Major (Chinese) importers of alumina are unlikely to accept more than 15 percent. To us, any offers above 14.5 percent are too high," said a trading manager at a large aluminium smelter, which is also a large importer of alumina.
The trading manager said many smelters in China expected the country's supply and demand of alumina to be nearly in balance next year.
Alumina is the main raw material for the production of primary aluminium. About two tonnes of alumina are needed for one tonne of metal in China.
China's 46 million tonnes of yearly alumina capacity would produce 95 percent of the alumina needed domestically this year due to expanded capacity, state-backed research firm Antaike has predicted.
Some Chinese smelters needed to import alumina linked to metal-supplying contracts signed for good-quality Australian alumina and to multi-year term contracts signed in previous years.
But firm LME aluminium prices and increased yearly percentage for 2011 alumina shipments have prompted Chinese importers to resell large amounts of contracted imports due to arrive China to the international market in the past few months, smelter sources and traders said.
Smelter sources estimated more than 2 million tonnes of alumina had been resold so far this year.
The benchmark three-month LME aluminium prices dropped 5.48 percent from end-2010 to $2,334.75 per tonne on Tuesday in late Asian trade, the best performer among the base metals.
In the international market, spot Australian alumina traded at about $360-$365 a tonne on a free-on-board basis versus $360-$370 in late August and $410-$430 in late July-early August, traders said.
Spot alumina prices in China edged up to 2,850-2,950 yuan ($462) per tonne, from 2,750-2,900 yuan in early August and 2,550-2,650 yuan in early June. The prices were still lower than the cost of imports currently, traders said.
China's alumina production rose 19.3 percent on the year to 23.45 million tonnes in the first eight months of 2011, with June's output hitting a monthly record of 3.143 million tonnes.
Record domestic production contrasted with a 61.3 percent on year fall in imports to 1.11 million tonnes of alumina in the same period, with August's inflows reaching a monthly record low of 40,000 tonnes. ($1=6.387 yuan) (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Emirates Aluminium Sees Demand for New Capacity, Gulf News Says
Bloomberg - 19-Sep-2011
Emirates Aluminium Co., an Abu Dhabi-based smelter, is seeking customers in Europe for metal from a second production line and has found buyers in the U.S. and Asia, Gulf News reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Saeed Al Mazrooei.
Aluminum demand will rise by 2015, by which time the plant’s Phase 2 expansion will have started and as smelters in Europe close, removing supply from the market. the newspaper reported. Emal, as the company is known, is a joint venture of Dubai Aluminium Co., the Middle East’s largest smelter, and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co.
To contact the reporters on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Voss on

Conveyor failure blocks Guinea CBG bauxite exports
Reuters - 19-Sep-2011
Reuters) - Bauxite exports from Guinea's CBG, the world's top supplier of the aluminum ore, remained blocked on Monday after repairs to a conveyor belt used for loading ships failed, sources said.
Loading operations were first halted on Sept. 12 when a tear on the conveyor was discovered.
"The staples are not holding. Everything is blocked for the moment," said a source at the company who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
"The losses risk becoming serious, as it has been eight days since this problem interrupted our work. Normally in eight days we would have loaded six ships," he said.
CBG, a joint-venture between Alcoa (AA.N), Rio Tinto (RIO.L) (RIO.AX) and the Guinean government, is the world's largest bauxite exporter company with annual shipments of around 13 million tonnes.
A spokesman for Alcoa, based in the United States, said on Monday that bauxite loadings were continuing "at a somewhat reduced pace until we can effect a permanent repair, which is expected soon." He said the conveyor was operating, but declined to give further details.
An official at Guinea's Mines Ministry confirmed that the repairs to the conveyor had failed on Sunday afternoon shortly after they had been completed. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

Smelters are under threat, claims Alcoa
Herald Sun - 20-Sep-2011
US aluminium giant Alcoa has warned that Victoria's two aluminium smelters face a "significant threat" because of the soaring Australian dollar, high input costs and the carbon tax, raising fears of further job losses in the crisis-hit manufacturing industry.
Victorian Treasurer Kim Wells met Alcoa officials yesterday amid serious concerns about potential job losses and the impact of the federal government's planned carbon tax. Alcoa employs about 1200 people at the smelters and is also Victoria's biggest exporter, The Australian reports.
While Alcoa will receive assistance under a $9.2 billion carbon tax package for manufacturers, the company estimates it faces extra costs of more than $40 million yearly because the smelters use extraordinarily large amounts of emissions-intensive brown-coal electricity. "It is correct to say that the combination of the above situation, adverse foreign exchange and high input costs are a significant threat to the future viability," the company has told a parliamentary committee.
The comments by Tim McAuliffe Alcoa of Australia's general manager of climate strategy and federal government relations are contained in a question on notice received last week by the Senate select committee inquiry into the carbon price.
Yesterday, Mr Wells said he was aware of the concerns held by Alcoa about the potential impacts of the tax. "The (state) Coalition government is aware of Alcoa's specific and legitimate concerns," Mr Wells said. "This is another example of the Gillard government refusing to recognise the flaws of their policies and penalising Victorian businesses and families."
Jobs losses at Alcoa would have a devastating impact on the economy of Portland in Victoria's southwest, he said.
with John Ferguson

VHE Hall Effect Ammeters Prove Popular with Aluminium Smelters - 18-Sep-2011
The VHE Hall Effect Ammeter continues to be in demand by those smelters paying increased attention to pot performance. Recent orders shipped include three ammeters configured for cathode riser bar measurements to Aluar in Argentina, and one configured for anode rod measurements to a European smelter.
The VHE Hall Effect Meter is a specialised portable ammeter. Lightweight and easy to operate, it is intended to provide good accuracy and repeatability in monitoring pot performance. The conductor current is instantaneously displayed on a backlit screen fixed to the probe handle.
The VHE Hall Effect Ammeter.
The U-shaped sensor head does not need to go fully around the conductor, making it both easier and quicker to take multiple measurements. A screen icon indicates low power remaining in the standard 9V alkaline dry cell. An over-temperature warning protects against excessive heat.
Originally intended for use in measuring cathode riser bar current, the VHE Hall Effect Meter may also be used to measure the anode rod current as an alternative to VHE's Volt Drop Anode Ammeter.
Every Hall Effect Ammeter is customised to specific potroom requirements - the lance length and angle is configured for easy access, the probe is dimensioned to suit the conductor, and the meter is scaled for the pot current.
Velaverkstaedi Hjalta Einarssonar - VHE is a major mechanical fabricator, offering a comprehensive range of design, manufacturing and site services. VHE now provides all Stimir solutions to the primary aluminium industry, with particular focus on the Rodding Plant. All aspects of design and fabrication are undertaken at VHE's own facilities, ensuring total quality control and on-time delivery.

Rio Tinto closer to Malaysia power price deal to push aluminium smelter project
The Australian - 19-Sep-2011
AFTER protracted delays, mining giant Rio Tinto and its Malaysian partner are inching towards an agreement on the price they will pay for electricity to power their $US2 billion ($1.9bn) aluminium smelter in East Malaysia.
According to sources, negotiations have been held up because the Malaysian government was selling its interest in the huge Bakun hydroelectric plant to the regional Sarawak government.
With the Bakun sale process complete, Rio and its partner can start working towards their own agreement with the Sarawak government on the price of electricity to be supplied from Bakun.
Sarawak Aluminium Company, a 60-40 joint venture between Rio and Cahya Mata Sarawak, was given a manufacturing licence by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority in March 2008.
"They naturally want cheap power, and they are still talking to our people on price," Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said of the proposal's progress.
The prospect of cheap electricity, the main cost of running smelters, has attracted other heavy power users to Sarawak.
Australian manganese producer OMH, Japanese chemical maker Tokuyama and China's top aluminium group, Chinalco, are also now more likely to move forward with their Sarawak investments.
But it is likely Malaysian authorities will subject the Rio smelter and other projects to harsh cost-benefit analysis before agreeing to a final electricity price.
Malaysia has new ground rules for industrial development.
Until 2004, Malaysia was virtually open slather for all foreign investors, offering a range of incentives without attempting to balance the costs and benefits to the country.
But the political climate has changed and environmental awareness has increased.
Cheap power for industrial users would be an incentive to lure foreign investment to Malaysia but would go against its policy of winding back costly subsidies, including electricity and food. Foreign investors are now being assessed under Malaysia's new economic policy and are caught up, in some cases, in the unwinding political reform.
Perth rare-earths producer Lynas is facing delays and holding costs on its processing plant at Kuantan, on the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula, because of a campaign by environmentalists.
Lynas plans a $700 million plant at Gebang Industrial Estate in Kuantan and on receiving conditional investment approval, it began constructing its plant, which is due to be completed this month, but needs further licensing approval to start operations and begin imports of raw material from Western Australia. The project is in the home state of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Opposition parties, backed by non-governmental organisations and concerned citizens, are attempting to block the project by whipping up fear of radioactive fallout from the plant.
The Malaysian government has deferred to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency and an international panel for their assessment of risk, and for recommendations to address the concerns.
The IAEA report and the international review mission report were released in July and June, respectively.
According to one source, Lynas has met its obligations and the recommendations were intended for Malaysian regulators.
Other sources said the Malaysian government, including Mr Mustapa, had taken the view that they should let the process run its course.
"They do not want to leave themselves open to charges of political interference," the source said.

Guinea asks China to build 340 MW power plant
Reuters - 18-Sep-2011
Reuters) - Guinea has asked state-owned China Power Investment (CPI) to build a 340 MW coal-fired power plant in the electricity-starved west African state, its mines minister said.
The project is part of ongoing negotiations between Guinea and CPI over the potential development of a bauxite mine in Boffa and construction of an alumina refinery and deepwater port, source have said.
"We have asked China Power Investment to build a 240 MW thermal power plant powered by coal to which they will join up another 100 MW plant," Mines Minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana said on state television.
Fofana, one of the Guinean officials who is with President Alpha Conde on a trip to China, gave no details on the financing or timing of the project.
"We have visited a 2,000 MW power plant (in China) that doesn't even emit dust. It is only water vapour that we see. We've asked them to do the same thing in Guinea, only in miniature," he said.
CPI has three bauxite exploration permits in Guinea and has said it has found 900 million tonnes of reserves.
Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore, and has vast deposits of iron ore that have drawn billions of dollars in planned investments by companies such as Rio Tinto and Vale .
CPI is negotiating with the Guinean government to open a bauxite mine to develop the Boffa reserves, build an alumina refinery to process it and a deepwater port for exports for a total $5.8 billion.
Despite its vast mineral wealth, Guinea's 10 million people face routine blackouts and a power generation capacity shortage is seen slowing mining investment. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis)

Rusal to up stake in Jamaica's Alpart to 100%
MarketWatch - 16-Sep-2011
MOSCOW -(MarketWatch)- Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal (0486.HK) said Friday it has agreed to buy a 35% stake in Alumina Partners of Jamaica, or Alpart, from Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY.OS), thus securing 100% control of the alumina producer.
Rusal said it paid $46 million for the stake.
Rusal acquired a 65% stake in Alpart in 2007 following the merger of the company's assets with the alumina assets of Swiss-based Glencore International PLC (0805.HK).
Operations were temporarily idled at Alpart in 2009 due to "a difficult situation in the industry", Rusal said. It is currently developing operationally efficient ways to resume production at the complex by converting to coal and gas, and examining other cost-cutting processes, including through a more effective production management and cooperation with local suppliers.
"Rusal's move to acquire the remaining 35% stake in Alpart helps the company to become self sufficient in raw materials and protect it from such impacts," said Vladislav Soloviev, Rusal's first deputy chief executive.

Bidder selected for Anglesey aluminium smelter
Reuters Africa - 16-Sep-2011
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The board of Anglesey Aluminium Metals, jointly owned by Rio Tinto and Kaiser Aluminium , has selected a bidder for the plant, which was put up for sale after the smelter was mothballed in 2009, an official at the group said.
"The preferred bidder has been selected," John Mervyn Jones, senior environmental specialist at Anglesey Aluminium Metals, said. "The board told us the decision will be announced publicly probably at the end of this month."
He added the bidder could not be named for commercial confidentiality and legal reasons.
Anglesey ceased smelting in September 2009 after it was unable to secure a commercially viable power contract. It later re-started operations with reduced staff producing billet.
The plant was put on the block in September 2010 and its owners received 12 expressions of interest, from which a shortlist of three was drawn.

Hydro divests its stake in Alpart alumina refinery in Jamaica
MarketWatch (press release) - 16-Sep-2011
OSLO, NORWAY, Sep 16, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Norsk Hydro ASA has today entered into an agreement to divest its 35 percent interest in the Jamaican bauxite and alumina partnership Alumina Partners of Jamaica (Alpart) to UC Rusal for a cash consideration of NOK 250 million (USD 46 million).
"Hydro acquired Vale's bauxite and alumina operations in Brazil earlier this year, including the word's largest alumina refinery and high-quality bauxite resources, considerably strengthening Hydro' position in the aluminium value chain. Following the acquisition, the 35 percent interest in Alpart is less strategic for Hydro," says Executive Vice President Johnny Undeli, responsible for the Bauxite & Alumina business area in Hydro
The transaction is expected to be completed in October 2011, and a positive after-tax impact of about NOK 400 million is expected to be recognized in Hydro's Q3 2011 results.
Alpart has a production capacity of around 1.65 million tonnes alumina per year and was established in 1953. Hydro became a 35-percent owner in 1989. Following the deal, Alpart will be 100 percent owned by Rusal. The operations in the bauxite mines and the alumina refinery in Jamaica were curtailed in 2009 due to over-capacity in the alumina market. The plant is still curtailed.
Following the divestment of Alpart, Hydro will have ownership interests in the following bauxite and alumina assets, all located in Brazil:
* 60 percent in the Paragominas bauxite mine with annual capacity of 9.9 million tonnes, increasing to 100 percent ownership in 2015. A planned expansion to supply the CAP alumina refinery will increase Paragominas' capacity to 15 million tonnes.
* 5 percent in the MRN bauxite mine with annual capacity of 18 million tonnes, and volume off-take agreements for Vale's 40 percent ownership interest in the mine. * 91 percent in the Alunorte alumina refinery with annual capacity of 6.3 million tonnes.
* 81 percent in the CAP alumina refinery project with initial annual capacity of 1.86 million tonnes and expansion potential up to 7.4 million tonnes.
In addition, Hydro has an alumina supply agreement in Australia with Rio Tinto lasting until 2030 for 0.5 million tonnes. The agreement allows for volume increases at different stages during the duration of the contract.

Alcoa announces Iowa aluminum plant expansion
The Associated Press - 15-Sep-2011
NEW YORK (AP) — Alcoa Inc. said Thursday that it will invest about $300 million to expand an Iowa manufacturing plant to produce aluminum to meet growing demand from the automotive industry.
The project will create 150 jobs during construction at the Davenport plant and 150 full-time jobs once it is completed at the end of 2013. That would put the plant's work force at about 2,300.
The aluminum manufacturer, which is based in New York, said one of the reasons it selected the Davenport location was an incentive package from the Iowa Department of Economic Development that consists of tax, financing, and research and development credits as well as training grants. The value of the total package was not immediately available.
"The automotive market has long lead times and much of this expansion ... is for business already secured," Helmut Weiser, an Alcoa vice president, stated in a news release. "However, we see huge opportunity beyond this for our leading technology solutions in this market."
The plant in Davenport also produces material used in aerospace and defense, among other products.

Exec: RUSAL to launch Boguchansky, Taishet smelters in 2013
PRIME-TASS (subscription) - 15-Sep-2011
IRKUTSK, Sep 15 (PRIME) -- Russian aluminum giant UC RUSAL plans to launch production at the Boguchansky and Taishet aluminum smelters in 2013, the press office of the Baikal economic forum said Thursday citing Artyom Volynets, CEO of En+ Group, which is a major shareholder of RUSAL.
After the launch of the plants, RUSAL’s total production capacity is expected to increase to 5.5 million tonnes of aluminum from the current 4.1 million tonnes.
The production capacity of the first stage of Taishet smelter in the Irkutsk Region is to amount to 375,000 tonnes, while the annual designed capacity amounts to 750,000 tonnes.
RUSAL has already invested $585 million into the construction of the plant and is to invest $1.187 billion more.
The production capacity of the first stage of Boguchansky smelter in the Krasnoyarsk Region is to amount to 147,000 tonnes, while the annual designed capacity amounts to 600,000 tonnes. RUSAL has already invested $296 million into construction of the plant, while total investments are to amount to $826 million.
RUSAL is the world’s largest producer of aluminum, accounting for about 10% of the global production of aluminum and 10% of global alumina output.

Rusal in Talks With Italian Government to Restart Alumina Plant
Bloomberg - 15-Sep-2011

United Co. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, is in talks with the Italian government to restart the EurAllumina refinery in Sardinia.

Rusal is “exploring various opportunities” to resume operations, the company said in an e-mailed response to queries from Bloomberg. “No exact date for the plant restart can be provided at this particular stage.”

It halted output at the plant, with capacity of 1.1 million metric tons of alumina a year, in 2009. Rusal said Sept. 2 it would raise production at Ireland’s Aughinish refinery, Europe’s largest alumina plant, to 2 million tons a year from 2012.

Hungary: Heavy Fine for Caustic Flood
New York Times - 14-Sep-2011
The metals company whose broken reservoir killed 10 people last year when several Hungarian towns were flooded with caustic red sludge has been fined the equivalent of about $647 million for environmental damages. The 25-acre reservoir at the plant owned by the MAL Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company released a torrent of about 184 million gallons of red sludge, a byproduct of aluminum production, on three towns in western Hungary in October 2010. The highly caustic material injured more than 150 people, many of whom suffered chemical burns. The fine is more than four times as much as the amount the government has said it spent on cleanup and reconstruction projects. It took into account the “unprecedented” amount of hazardous material released, the Ministry of Rural Development said Wednesday.

Special bricks at heart of rebuild
The Southland Times - 15-Sep-2011
The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter's rebuild project has some astonishing figures attached to it, including a staggering 1.1 million refractory bricks.
The $24.5 million carbon bake furnace four rebuild is estimated to take a team of 14 people up to 72,000 hours to complete.
Carbon products manager Stewart Hamilton said the Southland economy would get a $10m boost from the project as the smelter used labour, materials, hire services and engineers.
The rebuild is part of a $50m infrastructure upgrade programme the smelter announced earlier this year.
To rebuild the furnace, 1.1 million bricks, which come from Australia and Germany, will replace deformed furnace bricks, which create inefficiencies by using more fuel. The carbon anode furnaces use heavy fuel oil as opposed to the electrically fired pots for producing aluminium.
Aluminium output would not be affected, Mr Hamilton said, as carbon anodes had been stockpiled for two months. Output would also be maintained through a six-weeks-on, six-weeks-off rebuild process, which would allow more anodes to be stockpiled.
Workers for the project, which started in May, have been recruited locally, with the exception of two bricklayers from Christchurch.
Planning had already begun for the rebuild of the second furnace in 2014, Mr Hamilton said.
Projects specialist Terry Reeves said this and other significant maintenance projects were a sign of the smelter's long-term commitment to its operation. Other major projects include a $10.8m ship unloader, which has already arrived, $7.8m for replacement of two cranes, $6.5m billet casting upgrade, and a $4.5m switchyard transformer upgrade.
DID YOU KNOW? Carbon anode blocks are used in the smelting pots.
The carbon bake furnace four has 48 6-metre-deep sections.
Each section produces one anode block.Fourteen people will work about 72,000 man hours.Up to 1,132,476 bricks will be used.
Bricks will cost $9,748,352.The last section will be completed in March 2013.
Furnace life is about nine years.
Source: Tiwai Point aluminium smelter

Alcoa and China Power plan joint venture in China
BusinessWeek - 14-Sep-2011
Alcoa and China Power Investment Corp. will team up to make aluminum for a variety of uses in China, the companies said Wednesday.
The companies signed a letter of intent that provides a framework for a joint venture to service China's burgeoning auto, aerospace, packaging and consumer electronics industries. Alcoa and China Power signed a general agreement to work together when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Washington D.C. earlier this year. Terms of the joint venture were not disclosed.

Industry Special: Alcoa sticks to its values for financial success
China Daily - 14-Sep-2011
Editor's note: During his visit to Dalian to attend the Summer Davos Forum from Sept 14 to 16, Klaus Kleinfeld, the chairman and CEO of Alcoa, discussed with China Daily the firm's development strategy and his partnership with China.
Q: Alcoa is the world's leading aluminum producer, and was named one of the most sustainable corporations during the World Economic Forum in Davos. Just how do you connect sustainability with doing business in China?
A: At Alcoa, sustainability means being able to earn a license to operate all over the world. We integrate sustainability into our business systems, operating practices, product design, and engineering. Whether it's an Alcoa bauxite mine in the Amazon forest or our smelter in Iceland, we behave as a responsible global citizen, in a consistent manner around the world.
In recognition of Alcoa's contributions, the company has been on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 10 consecutive years and the WEF has named it one of the
In China, we stick to Alcoa values for financial success, environmental excellence, and social responsibilities, in partnership with all the stakeholders in communities we operate.
Q: You earlier expected global aluminum demand this year to go up. What percentage do you think China's aluminum consumption will increase by this year, in terms of the aerospace, home appliance, and consumer goods sectors?
A: Alcoa expects global aluminum demand to grow because of increasing population and urbanization around the world, particularly in China. We've seen many opportunities in China's aerospace, automotive, home appliance, consumer electronics, commercial transportation, and power generation industries.
Aluminum is used extensively in these industries because of its light weight, durability, surface qualities and corrosion resistance and also its infinite recyclability. About 75 percent of all aluminum ever made on this planet is still in use today.
In my meetings with Chinese leaders, I've been told repeatedly that more environmentally sensitive growth is what China is pursuing. And the extensive use of aluminum will certainly help meet this goal. We predict that China's aluminum industry will maintain a strong rate of growth this year, around 15 percent growth in consumption. China is already the world's largest producer and consumer of aluminum and this, as I see it, will last for a long time.
Q: Alcoa plays an active role in helping Chinese counterparts go abroad. What advice do you have for Chinese companies that want to tap into international markets?
A: Alcoa believes it is very important to work with Chinese companies. Our agreement with China Power Investment Corp is a great example. One of my greatest memories is signing a MoU on cooperation with Lu Qizhou, president of CPI, in Washington, DC, when China's President Hu Jintao visited there early this year. Both parties intend to work closely in mining, refining, smelting, fabrication and engineering applications in the global arena.
Yesterday, Lu and I signed a letter of intent (LoI) marking an important step in the evolution of our partnership. The LoI provides a framework for a completed joint venture that is focused on producing high-end fabricated aluminum products in China and can leverage Alcoa and CPI's abilities.
From our experience in conducting business globally for many years, we feel strongly that a trustworthy partner helps tremendously. That's one of the reasons CPI and Alcoa have chosen to work together. We believe this cooperation will become a model for many Chinese companies.
Q: China has stopped all new electrolytic aluminum projects to ease environmental pressures and consolidate the sector. How would you comment on the policy?
A: This new policy, if implemented in its entirety, will significantly help reduce waste, power consumption, and emissions. Alcoa is going to work closely with our partners to support the efforts of the Chinese government on this.
Q: Do you think that rising bauxite prices will affect Alcoa's mining business in the upstream sector?
A: Alcoa is the leader in bauxite and alumina and has an enviable position in the alumina sector. Our new projects in Brazil - the Juruti bauxite mine and expanded Sao Luis refinery - are performing at consistently high levels and our joint venture project in the Middle East with Ma'aden, which when complete will be the world's lowest cost aluminum complex, is also on time and on budget.
Q: The alumina price mechanism is facing challenges from the spot market. Now that iron ore, which has a 40-year tradition of long-term prices, has switched to the spot market this year, do you think alumina will follow suit in the near future?
A: I first visited China in the early 1980s and have since been here numerous times. I personally like the saying, "Yu Shi Ju Jin," from former President Jiang Zeming, meaning "China can grow fast only when it develops in a way that fits change in the world." The world is changing and that calls for change.
To be more specific, the aluminum industry is moving alumina to index pricing because it better reflects the fundamentals of the industry and will result in a fair price, based on real transactions, in a free market.
Currently, about 20 percent of Alcoa's alumina is sold on index basis or spot, and we expect to convert the remaining contracts over the next years.
Q: The US's manufacturing index is expected to continue its downward trend. Does that mean that its aluminum market is shrinking?
A: The US aluminum market is growing but in a much slower pace compared with that of China. Although there is uncertainty in the current economic environment, long-term the prospects for aluminum are bright. The application of aluminum in many industries is growing. Just look at automotive's drive for higher fuel efficiency.
Aluminum's natural advantages - light weight, strong and recyclable -deliver solutions and will play an important role in building a more sustainable global economy. We expect that global aluminum production and consumption will double in the next 15 years and the United States will be part of that growth.
Q: Will Alcoa consider diversifying its business and moving beyond aluminum, to become an international mining company?
A: Alcoa is well positioned in the global aluminum industry. About two-thirds of the energy consumed by Alcoa smelters is clean, renewable hydro power. Alcoa plans to further grow its use of clean energy. When Charles Martin Hall, the founder of Alcoa, created the production method of aluminum 125 years ago, he might've never thought that aluminum would be so deeply related to our daily life, be it aerospace, automotive or packaging. Aluminum truly is a "miracle metal." We see a great future for aluminum and for Alcoa.

Newly-found crab may halt Rio Tinto's bauxite mine in Cape York - September 14, 2011
....TALK about crabby timing.
A newly-discovered crab about the size of a 10c piece might stop mining giant Rio Tinto's new $900 million Cape York bauxite mine.
Scientists contracted by Rio to prepare an environmental impact statement on the project 50km south of Weipa have found what is thought to be a new species of freshwater crab.
They have also discovered a shrimp not previously recorded in Australia, prompting conservationists to call on federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to immediately halt the project.
The Wilderness Society's Glenn Walker said yesterday the crab would be threatened, nearly 30,000ha of bush cleared and a river destroyed if the big mine was approved.
"Incredibly, Rio Tinto still plans to mine in this area and threaten this new species, so greedy are they to make an extra buck," he said.
"The crab hasn't even yet been assessed for protection under federal environment laws, which would likely list the species as endangered and potentially stall approval of the mine."
The find has been referred to Peter Davie, Queensland Museum senior curator of crustacea.
Mr Davie said he believed it was a new species, although it would be about two years before this would be confirmed.
"We have very little information for (about 20 species of) freshwater crabs but they are all potentially endangered or vulnerable," he said.
"There's a bit of detective work to go but many are restricted to single catchments. They may well be vulnerable to climate change and all sorts of things."
A Rio Tinto Alcan spokesman said it was now up to the State and Federal governments to assess the findings.
"We've had the best experts out there studying the area ... and we're pleased to have been able to make a contribution to understanding the ecology of the cape," the spokesman said.
"We're being quite open about this. It was our people that turned this up."
Rio's EIS said a total of six species of crustacean were found. "These species are unlikely to be significantly impacted by the project," it says.
If any species are found to be which the crab could be Mr Burke will have to rule on whether the project can proceed.
No response was available from Mr Burke last night.
Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa employs about 870 staff and wants to begin what is known as the South of Embley mine in about two years.

Kevin Person, CEO of Wagstaff Inc., Appointed Chairman of the Aluminum ...
PR Newswire (press release) - 13-Sep-2011
First Member Company CEO to Hold the Position
ROSEMONT, Ill. and ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Chairman of the Aluminum Association's Board of Directors and President of Nichols Aluminum, Thomas Brackmann, announced his appointment of Kevin Person, CEO of Wagstaff Inc., to the Chairmanship of the Aluminum Association's Associate Member Committee.
Thomas Brackmann said, "I'm pleased to announce Kevin Person as the Chairman of the Associate Member Committee. Associate Members are a vital part of the Aluminum Association and Kevin Person will certainly represent these members well."
Wagstaff Inc. is a Spokane, Washington-based manufacturer that provides technology, equipment and services to aluminum producers to enable them to transform molten aluminum into solid shapes.
Steve Larkin, President of the Aluminum Association said, "I have known Kevin for many years and he is an institution in the industry. I'm very excited to see him take over this important role; Associate Members are elemental to the success of the Aluminum Association and the aluminum industry."
Kevin Person became the CEO of Wagstaff Inc. in May and was formally the Vice-President of Sales and Marketing since 2006. Person joined Wagstaff Inc. in 1998 as an applications engineer and worked as an applications engineering manager before becoming Vice-President. Before joining Wagstaff Inc., Person worked for Kaiser Aluminum at various facilities in numerous positions including Mead, Ghana, Ravenswood and Trentwood. Person holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington.
The Aluminum Association, based in Arlington, Virginia, works globally to aggressively promote aluminum as the most sustainable and recyclable automotive, packaging and construction material in today's market. The Association represents U.S. and foreign-based primary producers of aluminum, aluminum recyclers and producers of fabricated products, as well as industry suppliers. Member companies operate more than 200 plants in the United States, with many conducting business worldwide.
CONTACT: James Lewis, 703.358.2966,
SOURCE The Aluminum Association

Rusal Says 'Senseless' to Invest in Guinea After Mining Law
BusinessWeek - 13-Sep-2011
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- United Co. Rusal, the largest maker of aluminum, said changes to Guinea’s mining laws mean investors will find it “senseless” to agree on new projects for the country, the biggest exporter of the metal’s main ingredient.
Rusal’s current concession to develop the Dian Dian bauxite deposit and Friguia complex, and its production at the Cie des Bauxites de Kindia mine, are guaranteed under the conditions of agreements the government signed, it said.
Rio Tinto Group and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. are among mining companies also working in Guinea. Lawmakers on Sept. 9 adopted a mining code that will hand the West African nation 35 percent of local commodity companies and raise customs duties to 8 percent from 5.6 percent, Mines Minister Lamine Fofana said at the time.
The “mining code adopted in Guinea increases considerably tax pressure on mining companies, making it senseless to invest in development and new projects,” Moscow-based Rusal said by e- mail. “Any investor of good sense will look for investment opportunities somewhere outside Guinea.”
Rusal’s business in the country is operating normally, it said. “All our concessions were concluded long time ago and contain obligations of the Republic of Guinea,” it said.
Guinea expects a deal over disputes with Rusal by the end of the year, Reuters said today. The country will review mining companies’ contracts to remove “unconscionable provisions” granted by prior administrations, it said, citing Fofana.
Government Claim
Guinea may file a claim over terms of the privatization of units held by Rusal, the aluminum company said on Aug. 29 in its interim financial report. In July, a Rusal unit made a claim against Guinea with the International Arbitration Court in Paris to “preserve its right to arbitrate” outside of local courts.
Rio’s agreement with Guinea in April gives the nation the right to as much as 35 percent of the Simandou iron-ore venture, which the company has said will cost more than $10 billion. Tony Shaffer, a spokesman for Rio, declined to comment further.
AngloGold said last week it has a “stability agreement” with the country, which holds 15 percent of Societe Aurifere de Guinee, the company that owns the Siguiri mine. AngloGold owns the balance. “We have not been approached by the government to increase their stake,” the company said last week in an e- mailed statement. It reaffirmed the comments yesterday.
“These developments do not come as a surprise,” Bellzone Mining Plc, also with projects in the country, said by e-mail. “Bellzone is committed and ready to work with Guinea.” Bobby Morse, a spokesman for Avocet Mining Plc, declined to comment.
--With assistance from Jesse Riseborough and Thomas Biesheuvel in London, and Carli Lourens in Johannesburg. Editors: Tony Barrett, Amanda Jordan
To contact the reporters on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at; Yuliya Fedorinova in Moscow at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at

Alba plans major smelter expansion
Trade Arabia - 13-Sep-2011
Aluminium Bahrain (Alba), one of the largest aluminium smelters in the world, said it is planning a major expansion of its sixth smelter.
Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza on Monday received Alba chairman Mahmoud Al Kooheji who outlined potential needs in electricity, which would amount to 717 megawatts.
They discussed pumping more natural gas for Alba and supplying the company with an additional 228 megawatts in summer and 268 megawatts in winter from the grid of the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA), from 2014.
Dr Mirza urged National Oil and Gas Authority and EWA officials to study the project and suggest proposals to carry it out.
Present were EWA acting chief executive officer Adnan Fakhro, Oil and Gas Affairs director-general Jassim Al

Aluminum producers drive smelting technology
MarketWatch - 09-Sep-2011
By Andrea Hotter
PARIS -(MarketWatch)- Technology will advance the growth in aluminum smelting capacity, with key innovation coming from producers, an executive at engineering and project management consultancy Hatch said Friday.
Martin Desmeules, a global director of Hatch's aluminum division, told a Metal Bulletin conference in Paris that there are a "good number" of technology providers in the market.
"Core reduction technology development will continue to be driven by producers," he said. "Technologies are evolving towards higher amperage and greater efficiency," he added.
Key producers with smelting technology available to the market are Rio Tinto Alcan, a unit of U.K.-listed Rio Tinto PLC /quotes/zigman/182541/quotes/nls/rio RIO -2.92% , as well as Norway's Norsk Hydro ASA (NHY.OS), Dubai Aluminium, China's Chalco and United Co. Rusal PLC (0486.HK), Desmeules told delegates.
But "breakthrough" technologies are not expected to hit the market soon, he said.
It can take up to 65 months to build a greenfield smelter from scratch, including the various studies required, Desmeules noted.

Nalco shuts down 60 smelting pots
Business Standard - September 10, 2011
Faced with power crisis borne out of low coal supply, National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has closed down 60 out of its total 960 smelting pots in its smelter plant here today resulting in a production loss of about Rs six crore per day.
According to sources, the power crisis came up after Nalco was forced to shut down one of the seven 110 Mw units of its captive power plant (CPP) due to shortage of coal. As against the requirement of 950 Mw of power per day to run the smelter in full capacity, the production in power plant came down to about 640 Mw. With the import of about 200 Mw, the total power available to the smelter remained at 840 Mw. This deficit situation forced the authorities to scale down output by shutting down some pots.
Sources said, there has been very low coal supply from the mines of nearby Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) for past few months reducing coal stock at the CPP to about 50,000 tonne now. The plant requires about 18,000 tonne of coal per day to run the CPP in full capacity.
“It is temporary measure to deal with the crisis situation arising out of shortage of coal supply. The pots will be activated soon to resume normal production “, says atop Nalco official.
The shut down of pots evoked wide protest from the workers union. Nirmnal Samal, the secretary of Nalco Employees Sangh affiliated to Indian Trade Union Congress said Nalco authorities did not take any pre-emptive steps to avoid shut down of pots which sends wrong signals to outside.
The director (production), A.K.Sharma rushed to the plant to take stock of the situation.

Vietnam to start alumina production in Nov-Vinacomin
Reuters Africa - 09-Sep-2011
HANOI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam's first alumina refinery would start producing in November, after several delays, and sell an expected 50,000 tonnes this year directly to clients without any tenders, the company operating the plant said on Friday.
Alumina output at the $460 million Tan Rai plant would rise to 350,000 tonnes next year, around half its projected annual capacity, said Chief Executive Officer Le Minh Chuan of Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group, adding that no tenders had been planned yet.
"Vinacomin will give priority to the clients who are committed to signing long-term contracts to buy alumina," Chuan said in a written reply to Reuters.
In late August, a Vinacomin manager with direct knowledge of the tenders said the firm had invited various companies to join a bidding and would award the product to those who pay the best price.
Vinacomin and China's Yunnan Metallurgical Group (YMG) have a 30-year agreement under which the Vietnamese firm would sell 600,000-900,000 tonnes of alumina a year to Yunnan Metallurgical to feed its smelter Yunnan Aluminium Industry Co Ltd .
"YMG, or any other clients willing to buy alumina, has to negotiate directly with the group," Chuan said.
He did not name potential buyers or give any reason for a low output in 2012, as the refinery has an annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes of alumina, a white powder made from bauxite ore and used for producing aluminium.
The refinery was initially slated to start production in February and export alumina in March, but those plans had been delayed and it was due to turn out its first product on Sept. 20, Vinacomin and the Vietnam News Agency have said.
The Vietnam News Agency has attributed the cause of the delay to adverse weather, power shortages and slow equipment delivery.
The Tan Rai bauxite-alumina complex is built in the central highland province of Lam Dong. Vinacomin, which is also Vietnam's top coal producer, has been developing Nhan Co alumina project in the neighbouring province of Dak Nong, with projected initial output of 600,000 tonnes.
It has awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contracts for both the Tan Rai and Nhan Co complexes to China Aluminum International Engineering Co.
Vietnam's mostly untouched bauxite ore reserves are estimated at between 5.6 billion and 8.3 billion tonnes, making it the world's third-largest after Guinea and Australia. (Editing by Ramthan Hussain)

Plant executive faces possible prison term
Louisville Courier-Journal (blog) - September 7, 2011
By James Bruggers
A Wisconsin man is in trouble for allegedly cheating on monitoring required by the federal Clean Air Act at an aluminum plant in Glasgow, Kentucky.
A federal grand jury in Bowling Green today indicted Daniel Evanoff, 59, of Plymoth, Wisconsin, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and rendering inaccurate a monitoring device required under the Clean Air Act.
News of the indictment was made in a press release this afternoon by David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
But, Hale’s office reported this summary of the charges:
The Indictment charges that between 2007 and November 2009, Evanoff and other coconspirators agreed to make materially false statements, agreed to tamper with and render inaccurate a monitoring device required under the Clean Air Act, and agreed to defraud the lawful and legitimate functions of the EPA in enforcing federal environmental regulations. As the Indictment alleges, Evanoff and others agreed to create false records concealing that J.L French, LLC, improperly exceeded production and air emissions limits. Count two of the indictment alleges that Evanoff directed others to install a temperature resistor on air pollution control equipment to create a false temperature reading and to make it appear as though the pollution control equipment was operating properly.
The company still exists and goes by another name now, said Stephanie Collins, a Justice Department spokeswoman. A voice mail message left at the plant was not immediately returned. It’s website can be found here.
The press release went on to say:
Evanoff served as the North American Alloy Manager for J.L. French which operated a secondary aluminum production facility in Glasgow, Kentucky. J.L. French produced die-cast aluminum parts for the automobile industry. To produce die-cast aluminum, J.L. French operated furnaces that melted scrap aluminum, which emitted possibly harmful emissions and particulate matter into the air. The EPA has determined that these sources require regulation due to the fact that they emit various hazardous air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds such as dioxin/furans, benzene, styrene, acrylonitrile, methylene chloride, napthalene, and formaldehyde; hazardous inorganic “acid gas” compounds such as hydrogen chloride (HCl), hydrogen fluoride (HF), and chlorine (Cl2); and hazardous metals such as antimony, arsenic, lead, manganese, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, mercury, nickel, and selenium.
The indictment also alleged that in 2007, Evanoff instructed others to install a temperature resistor that would falsely indicate a lower temperature in a bag house filter system. As a result, the Justice Department says, the bag house appeared to be in compliance with EPA regulations when in fact it wasn’t.
And Evanoff also is alleged to have instructed that the temperature resistor be removed to prevent its discovery by Kentucky environmental inspectors.

He faces a maximum potential penalty of seven years in prison, a $500,000 fine, and supervised release for a period of up to three years.

Kaiser Aluminum donates 3000 flag poles for 9/11 memorial
KXII-TV - 08-Sep-2011
SHERMAN, TX-One Texoma business is honoring the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks by creating a special part of a memorial to stand in New York City.
Kaiser Aluminum in Sherman has donated 3,000 flagpoles to the 9/11 memorial at Battery Park in New York City where thousands of flags with the names of the victims will be displayed.
General manager Max Gorman said they were asked by the memorial's organizer back in July to supply the poles and he's glad to be a part of the remembrance.
"We thought it would be a great honor to be able to supply the aluminum that will eventually be the flag poles for this ceremony on 9/11. I thought this is a tremendous opportunity for us," he said.

Rusal's Loss of Ukraine Smelter Annulled by Court, Interfax Says
Bloomberg - Sep 8, 2011
A Ukrainian court annulled a ruling that ordered the return to the government of a 68 percent stake in an aluminum smelter sold to United Co. Rusal, Interfax said, citing Deputy Head of the State Property Fund Ihor Khotey.
The Ukrainian Supreme Economic Court returned the case to the Kiev Economic Court, Interfax reported today. The state’s sale of the Zaporozhskiy aluminum smelter, or Zalk, was earlier rejected by the court and again in May in an appeal hearing.
Rusal, the largest aluminum producer, planned to challenge the decision, it said in an e-mailed statement at the time.
To contact the reporter on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at;
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

Rusal: Aluminum Producers In Guinea Should Meet Over New Mining Code
Fox Business September 08, 2011
PARIS -(Dow Jones)- Aluminum producers active in Guinea should meet to discuss the implications of the country's new mining code, a senior executive at Russia's United Co. Rusal PLC (0486.HK) said Thursday.
"It's too early to know what the new mining code might mean, but there are some issues that are worrying producers," first deputy CEO Vladislav Soloviev said. "Aluminum producers should get together to discuss how to apply the new code," he added.
Rusal operates the Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea, a west African nation that has been plagued with instability in the last few years. The company has clashed with past governments over the refinery and faced disputes over how, and at what price, it acquired the refinery.
However, Guinea now has a new internationally-backed government, and recently announced a new mining code for companies operating there.
"The very positive and important thing is that the new government is ready to have a dialogue and I hope this goes in a positive direction," he told a Metal Bulletin conference in Paris.
Other companies operating in mineral-rich Guinea include Alcoa Inc. (AA), Rio Tinto PLC (RTP), Brazil's Vale S.A. (VALE) and Anglogold Ashanti (ANG.JO).
Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones Newswires

China To Be Net Aluminum Importer - Rio Tinto Alcan CEO
Fox Business - September 08, 2011
PARIS -(Dow Jones)- China will eventually become a net importer of aluminum but the timing of this shift is uncertain, the chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan said
"It may take some time, but we believe China will eventually turn into a net importer of aluminum, as it has for bauxite and for alumina," Jacynthe Cote said. "The question is when," she told a Metal Bulletin conference in Paris.
Cote said China won't become a destabilizing market force as a significant net exporter of aluminum, and noted cost pressures in China due to rising energy prices, and increased power tariffs for industrial users in 15 Chinese provinces.
"Though we have not yet seen large impacts (from these energy costs), we are watching the situation closely," she said. "Growth will continue in the northwest part of the country, but the coastal and central provinces will face significant power price pressure in addition to concerns about bauxite and alumina availability," she added.
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of aluminum.
Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones Newswires

India's NALCO sells aluminium at nearly $102/T premium over LME
Reuters Africa - 08-Sep-2011
BHUBANESHWAR, India, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Indian state-run National Aluminium Co. Ltd sold 7,500 tonnes of aluminium ingots at nearly $102 per tonne premium over the average LME cash price on a cost, insurance and freight basis, a senior company official said on Thursday.
The Hong Kong buyer will get the metal in six batches of 1,250 tonnes each from September to February, Ansuman Das, director (commercial) at NALCO told Reuters.
NALCO, whose tenders serve as a global benchmark, last sold 1,500 tonnes of aluminium billets in July to an Australian firm at $150 per tonne premium over the average LME cash price. (Reporting by Jatindra Dash)

Former workers block RUSAL Guinea rail shipments
Reuters Africa - 08-Sep-2011
CONAKRY (Reuters) - Former workers at RUSAL's Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea have blocked the company's rail shipments to port for two days by sitting on the tracks, protesters and a source with knowledge of RUSAL's Guinea operations told Reuters on Wednesday.
The retired workers said they are owed money by RUSAL, which typically ships about 1,500 tonnes of alumina along the rail line each day for export from the port of Conakry. A RUSAL official was not immediately available for comment.
"We are suffering, we are hungry," said Fatoumata Lamarana Balde, one of the protesters.
Guinea's government ordered RUSAL to pay some of its retirees 19 months of salary to resolve a labour dispute, according to the contents of a letter written by Mines Minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana last month and seen by Reuters.
The protesters said they had not been paid.
A source close to RUSAL's Guinea-based executives and who has knowledge of the Friguia plant's operations said the company was seeking to negotiate a solution with local authorities.
The protest is the latest in a string of disputes that have hindered the Russian mining giant's operations in the West African state, the world's top supplier of bauxite.Workers at Friguia went on strike briefly in March, three weeks after Guinea's government blocked RUSAL's alumina exports in a dispute over alleged pollution.

SC Alcoa plant to close without lower power rate - September 07, 2011
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (AP) — Alcoa officials say the company's aluminum smelting plant in this Charleston suburb consumes $4 million a week in power and will close at a loss of more than 600 jobs if they can't negotiate a lower rate with Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric utility.
"The big challenge for us to go forward is the power problem," plant manager Mike Rousseau told reporters who toured the plant Wednesday. "With the economy the way it is, we have to solve this."
The company and the utility have been negotiating for months and Santee Cooper said it's seeking an answer that addresses both Alcoa's concerns and rising costs for the utility.
"We're certainly optimistic we'll find a workable solution," said Laura Varn, the utility's vice president of corporate communications.
Alcoa on Wednesday released two studies, one by local economists and one by researchers form Clemson University, showing the plant — the last aluminum smelting plant built in the United States — has an economic impact of $912 million statewide.
The plant, jointly owned by Alcoa and Century Aluminum and which began operation in 1980, operates around the clock and has never laid off a worker in that time. The plant has 560 Alcoa employees and 80 contract workers. The average wage with benefits is $91,000.
Rousseau said that without a favorable power agreement with Santee Cooper, the plant will shut down, as have four others in the United States since the beginning of the Great Recession. He said the issue in those closings has also been power costs.
There are only nine aluminum smelting plants left in operation in the United States, compared to 33 the year after the Goose Creek plant opened.
Alcoa has been negotiating with Santee Cooper for months and talks continue. Its current contract expires in 2015 and it must tell the utility by June of 2012 whether it plans to renew.
"I wouldn't be standing up here and going through this if I didn't think this thing was solvable," said Rousseau, who added the company would like a 10- or 20-year contract. "We have a huge delta between where we are and what it's going to take to continue on a long-term basis."
Electricity comprises about 41 percent of the plant's operating costs. At other aluminum plants that cost is between 30 and 33 percent, he said, adding the plant's electric costs are the highest of any aluminum smelter in the nation.
He would not say how much the $4 million weekly bill needs to be lower, but hoped an agreement can be reached.
Santee Cooper said the utility also has its cost issues as it seeks a solution.
"We are facing some increased pressures and rising costs and uncertainties and impacts in our business as well," Varn told The Associated Press. "We have rising fuel costs and some increases in transportation charges along with EPA regulations which all translate into higher costs that get passed along to our customers."
Workers said a solution was critical to keeping the plant and its hundreds of jobs.
"It's very important an agreement is reached because my future depends on it," said Sonya Watson, who has worked at the plant for seven years.
"It's a good place to work," agreed James Capers, who has worked at the plant since it opened. "I want to keep the plant working for the younger generation."

RusAl Terms Questioned
The Moscow Times - 07-Sep-2011
United Company RusAl is being investigated by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service after a client claimed it abused its dominant market position.
RusAl may have imposed "unfavorable" supply terms, the regulator said in a statement, without identifying the client. Vedomosti earlier reported that the complainant was Valcom-PM, based in Volgograd. Valcom-PM alleged that RusAl had forced it to buy A7-grade aluminum from a smelter in Krasnoyarsk, rather than from a plant in its home region, the newspaper said, citing unidentified regulatory officials.
Those claims are groundless, and Valcom-PM has already withdrawn its complaint, RusAl's press office said Wednesday. RusAl could be fined 1 percent to 15 percent of revenue.

Chinese Cutbacks Could Signal Higher Aluminum Prices
Seeking Alpha - 07-Sep-2011
Global aluminum output has been steadily rising since the start of the year, supported mainly by Chinese and Middle East/Gulf growth with the market in a net surplus of 221,300 metric tons, according to the World Bureau of Metal Statistics.
Long-awaited production cutbacks in China failed to materialize in the early summer and, if anything, growth continued, with China producing some 41 percent of global production by the middle of this year. However, a Reuters article reports aluminum producers in China’s Guangxi province will start cutting production in September due to power shortages there, a move that is expected to support prices in the fourth quarter, the news service says.
Around 15 percent, or over 120,000 tons per year, of Guangxi’s 810,000-ton annual production capacity of aluminum may be affected by the power shortages, and although equivalent to only 4 percent of China’s total production capacity, the cuts would be enough to push the country’s demand and supply from a slight surplus to equilibrium, a local analyst is quoted as saying.
Apparently the southern area grid is facing a deficit of 10 percent in power demand, due in part to a drop in hydro power production. The grid also supplies Guizhou and Yunnan provinces, both of which produce about 1 million tons per year each. We have been advised by some China specialists that smelters generally have captive power agreements or facilities which make them unlikely to be impacted by wider grid shortages, but the drop in production last month suggests the smelters are more vulnerable than reported.
The WBMS estimated China was a net exporter of 185,000 tons in the first half of this year. That figure could easily be reversed with current closures and it’s entirely possible we will see the country swing into net imports, particularly at current market prices which are not favorable for the highest quartile of Chinese aluminum producers. Rusal has just posted a much lower set of numbers for the second quarter, blaming raw materials, power and labor as all contributing to a 70 percent collapse in profits. Prices were high in the second quarter, which suggests power costs are even beginning to seriously impact one of the historically lowest cost producers outside of the Gulf region. Rusal is hoping for higher prices by year end to counter its rising cost base.
Meanwhile, traders, banks and hedge funds continue to buy and store physical metal in long-term financing deals, a trend that is likely to continue with low interest rates and traders such as Glencore earning off both the forward price curve and the cost of warehousing now that they own the storage companies. Leading analysts such as Harbor Aluminum predict prices could be back up above $2,500 per ton by year-end and suggest now is a good time to be buying forward. Recent firmness taking the price back above $2,400 per ton has more to do with dollar strength than the effects of Chinese production cuts, but eventually these will filter through and impact the market, particularly if the closures spread to other regions.
By Stuart Burns

Business Insider - John Helmer - 07-Sep-2011

The proposed merger this coming spring of Russian Aluminum (RUSAL), Siberian Ural Aluminum (SUAL Group), and Glencore International AG (Glencore) into ...

FOCUS: Russian hydropower improving after major accident, RusHydro ...
HydroWorld - September 5, 2011
As two years have passed since a major accident at Russia's largest hydropower plant, analysts claim the safety level at the country's plants has increased and the whole situation in the complex has improved. Although the worn-out level remains high, many hydropower plants are undergoing large-scale modernization and chances of similar accidents being repeated are lower than two years ago. Analysts are also doubtful about the government's plans to retain only a golden share in hydropower monopoly RusHydro, saying it will now be difficult to find a large private investor in the company and claiming that economic stimuli are needed to promote investments in the construction of hydropower facilities.
Hydropower sources are renewable and the most environmentally friendly sources of energy. Of all existing types of electric power plants, hydropower plants are the most maneuverable and are capable of significantly increasing power output over several minutes when necessary, thus covering peak burdens, while for thermal and nuclear plants such moves require several hours.
Russia currently has 15 hydropower plants with a capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) that have either already been built or are under construction and over 100 hydropower plants of a lower capacity. The country's largest hydropower company is RusHydro, which operates 61 power facilities with a combined installed electric power capacity of 26 gigawatts (GW).
Concern about the situation of the Russian hydropower complex grew after an explosion at RusHydro's Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant in the constituent republic of Khakasia in August 2009 that killed 75 people. At present, 40% of the plant's capacity has been restored while the full restoration estimated to be worth 45 billion rubles is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
The surveyed analysts claim the situation in the sector has improved over the last several years. "The current state of the Russian hydropower complex is satisfactory," as estimated by Vasily Konuzin, head of an analytical department at A'lemar Investment Group. "Investments into the safety and modernization of hydropower plants improved after the explosion at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant," he said. If comparing with five to 10 years ago, the situation in the sector is now getting better, though the worn-out level of hydropower equipment remains high, the analyst said.
A number of the country's existing hydropower plants were launched even before the Great Patriotic War, and the worn-out level of equipment at them amounts to an average of 50%-60%, Konuzin said. While some hydropower plants are currently undergoing large-scale modernization and their worn-out level could be lowered to 40%, no modernization has been carried out yet at some other plants, he said. The state of water engineering facilities is worse, with the worn-out level estimated at around 70%, Konuzin said, adding that large-scale modernization was required.
"The worn-out level in the hydropower complex is inexcusably high, standing at around 50%, while the average global worn-out level amounts to 30%-35%," as estimated by Vladimir Sklyar, an analyst at Renaissance Capital. The analyst, however, noted that the worn-out level at thermal power plants was even higher.
Sklyar also said that during the 15 years prior to the power sector reform that was completed in mid-2008 the power industry was subsidizing the entire economy and there were no funds for modernization at that time. Now technical modernization of the sector is being carried out at a high pace, he said.
The surveyed analysts also said they believed the safety level at hydropower plants had increased after the accident. "Safety measures were toughened following the accident and more attention started to be paid to the technical parameters of operations of equipment," said Konuzin from A'lemar. Sklyar from Renaissance Capital agreed that the level of technical safety had increased, but said there was no safety against terrorist attacks.
A number of experts claim that the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant was inevitable and similar accidents could be seen in the future. Vitaly Bushuyev, general director of the Institute of Energy Strategy, believes that "any physical system fails sooner or later." "Unfortunately, the repeat of accidents of such a size in Russia is possible and inevitable, and they will become more frequent and severe," Bushuyev said, explaining his forecast by the aging of equipment, among other reasons. He also said that Russia has not drawn a lesson from the event and no necessary organizational changes were made.
Meanwhile, some other experts claim there is not much chance of similar accidents happening. "A repeat of an accident similar to the one that occurred at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant is unlikely, but should not be ruled out," said Konuzin from A'lemar. He also said that hydropower facilities were now facilities of enhanced security around the whole world.
"It was rather a tragic juncture of circumstances than a purposeful mistake by some executive," said Sklyar from Renaissance Capital. "The occurrence of an accident like the explosion at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant could not be fully ruled out," he said. "There are now fewer chances for such an accident than two years ago, but they still remain," he added.
Shortly after the accident, Alexander Khloponin, who was the governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region at that time, said that there was no threat of a similar accident happening at other hydropower plants. "Hydropower plants currently under construction are so much powerful, serious, fundamental facilities that it is hardly possible to speak about a catastrophe that could await us," Khloponin said.
"The accident has brought to the table a large-scale renewal of the equipment that has been in operation over several decades," according to Anatoly Vakulenko, an analyst at investment holding Finam. The equipment renewal requires significant financial expenditures, but owners of power plants are not ready for such costs, especially amid limits on power prices, the analyst said.
RusHydro CEO Yevgeny Dod said in late 2010 that the company planned to spend more than 350 billion rubles on upgrading its hydropower plants by 2020.
Along with modernization processes being carried out at Russian hydropower plants and safety measures being increased, the Russian hydropower complex could see some changes in the near future, as the government has announced plans to sell its stake in RusHydro. The government, which currently holds a 57.9% stake in RusHydro, initially said it planned to sell 7.97% minus one share in the company in 2011-2013. However, it later revised the privatization list and announced its intention to retain only a golden share in RusHydro by 2017.
Commenting on the government's plans to sell its stake in RusHydro, Konuzin from A'lemar said that this was a long-term goal and there was no certainty that it would be implemented. "On the one hand, privatization of RusHydro could allow attracting new funds into the company without loading the budget, but on the other hand the company is too strategic for the country," the analyst said. He said RusHydro was not currently ready to be managed by a private investor. If the government implements its plan to sell 7.97% in RusHydro, it will still keep control over the company, the analyst said.
Further on, Konuzin said it would be logical if the government sold at least a blocking stake in RusHydro to a large power consumer such as aluminum giant UC
RUSAL. This would be efficient to form a dialogue between power producers and consumers, he said.
The Russian hydropower industry does not currently encompass economic stimuli for making investments in the construction of new power plants, Sklyar from Renaissance Capital complained. Having control over RusHydro, the government now forces the company to build power plants, which sometimes bring very small profits. If new mechanisms for operating in the sector are not offered, then there will be no investments in the construction of hydropower plants, the analyst said. Moreover, there is no certainty that some investor would now like to get control over RusHydro, Sklyar said. "The chances of a successful privatization are low. It will now be difficult to find a large private investor in RusHydro," he said. Over the last year, the government was changing rules of the game too often and there are currently no guarantees that the rules wouldn't change again, the analyst explained.
For the entire sector the privatization of RusHydro could be successful, Sklyar also said, adding that foreign investors such as Germany's E.ON and Italy's Enel proved to manage Russian power assets efficiently. In the long-term, the privatization could lead to a decrease in prices for electric power, he said.
Sklyar was positive about the potential for hydropower development in Russia, saying it is very high and unlike other countries Russia still has areas for growth. However, the question is how the construction of facilities will be carried out, whether through forcing RusHydro or providing an economically reasonable stimulus.
29.0604 rubles - U.S. $1) Copyright 2011 Prime-Tass Business News Agency All Rights Reserved Prime-Tass English-language Business Newswire

Vedanta to focus on Jharsuguda smelter plant expansion - 05-Sep-2011
With the 4-million-tonne Lanjigarh aluminium refinery plant expansion on hold, the Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) has decided to focus on completing its aluminium smelter plant at Jharsuguda in Orissa to achieve its targeted capacity of 1.75 MT.
"The work is on, on a war-footing, at the proposed project site at our Jharsuguda plant and we will achieve 1.75 MT capacity by the end of the next financial year," VAL President and Chief Executive Mukesh Kumar said.
The company has so far invested around Rs. 35,000 crore in the Jharsuguda project and around Rs. 10,000 crore at the Lanjigarh plant. It plans to invest the balance of Rs. 15,000 crore by 2013 to complete its planned expansion.
VAL plans to up its smelting capacity at Jharsuguda plant to 1.75 MT from the present 0.5 MT by 2013.
The alumina refinery expansion plan of 4 MT at Lanjigarh is on hold as per the directive of the Union Environmental Ministry, he said.
"We are awaiting the Environment Ministry's clearance to ramp up capacity at Lanjigarh plant in Kalahandi district," Kumar added.
The expansion of the refinery plant ran into rough weather after the Union Environmental Ministry refused to give clearance on October 21, 2010.

VHE to Supply Stub Straightening Machine to Romanian Aluminium Smelter - 04-Sep-2011
VHE has been awarded a contract to supply a stub straightening machine to the ALRO aluminium smelter in Romania.
Inward bending of anode stubs, generally known as "toe-in", is a well understood occurrence in all pre-bake aluminium smelters. The difference in linear expansion of the carbon anode and the steel yoke or spider of the anode rod at high temperatures in the reduction cell means that the yoke expands more than the anode, bending the stubs which are anchored in the anode block.
Stubs become bent inwards just above the iron thimble, changing the geometry of the yoke, and stubs can no longer be correcly located in the anode holes during subsequent rodding. Ultimately the stubs will no longer fit into the holes.
The machine to be supplied to ALRO will be designed for the 2x2 130mm stub diameter techonology in use at that smelter and will be delieverd in 2012.
VHE of Iceland has proven solutions suitable for different reduction technologies. For smaller diameter stubs, ambient temperature straightening is an economical approach. For larger stub diameters, hot straightening is often a better solution. Stubs heated to 650°C need considerably less straightening force, and the cost of an induction pre-heating unit is to a large extent off-set by savings in the heavy duty steelwork and hydraulic systems which would otherwise be needed.

Bosnia aluminum smelter back to profit in H1 2011
SteelGuru - 05-Sep-2011
Reuters reported that Bosnia's sole aluminum smelter Aluminij Mostar has returned to profit in the H1 of 2011 after posting a loss of nearly 13.4 million Bosnian marka in 2010.
Mr Ivo Bradvica GM of Aluminij Mostar said that he expected Aluminij to end the year with profit and that he had secured the support of shareholders to slash a 900 strong workforce by around 10%

Russia's RUSAL to up Ireland's Aughinish plant capacity by 5.8%
PRIME-TASS (subscription) - 02-Sep-2011
MOSCOW, Sep 2 (PRIME) -- Russian aluminum giant UC RUSAL plans to increase the alumina production capacity of its Aughinish plant in Ireland by 110,000 tonnes, or 5.8%, to 2 million tonnes annually, RUSAL said in a statement Friday.
The company attributed the planned increase to the launch of a residue storage facility.
RUSAL Aughinish is the largest alumina production facility in Europe, with an annual output of 1.89 million tonnes.

India's NALCO says raises aluminium prices by 2000 rupees/T
Reuters Africa - 02-Sep-2011
BHUBANESWAR, India, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Indian state-run National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO) has raised aluminium prices by 2,000 rupees per tonne ($43.6) across all products, Chairman and Managing Director B.L.Bagra said on Friday.
The price revision was effected in line with the increase in LME prices, he said.
"Last two days the metal price is recovering. We feel that next two to three months it will range between $2,300-2,500 per tonne. Yesterday it was $2,400," Bagra told Reuters.
The basic price of standard aluminium ingots after the latest revision has been increased to 139,700 rupees per tonne.
Nalco had last raised aluminium prices by 5,000 rupees at the start of August. ($1=45.90 rupees) (Reporting by Jatindra Dash)

Guinea Looks to Adopt New Mining Code, Take 35% Stake
Azomining - 01-Sep-2011
In Guinea the new National Transitional Council has begun debating a mining code that proposes the government own a 35 percent stake in commodity companies. Rumors have it that the code recommends a free participation level of 15 percent for the government and the right to buy another 20 percent.
The debate is underway in the capital city of Conakry and the council has ten days to conclude the debate, council member Amadou Camara said. The code also supposedly proposes a minimum investment by companies of $1 billion before concessions will be awarded.
There is a likelihood of custom duties being increased on mining in the new mining code. Although previously granted mining rights may not be challenged. The government will also have an increased role in bauxite sales as per the proposed mining code.
Major mining companies which operate in Guinea and will be affected by the new mining code include Rio Tinto and Vale. They have interests in the Simandou iron ore complex. A statement in April mentioned that the new mining code review would not affect the agreement over the Simandou project.
The draft code also is intended to toughen the procedures for issuing development permits, while offering tax breaks and deductions to encourage more exploration. The country’s law making body must approve the code in the debate before it adopts it.
Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion tonnes (metric tons) of bauxite – and perhaps up to one-half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4-billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium.

Appeals court upholds denial of Century retirees' benefits motion
West Virginia Record - 01-Sep-2011
A federal appeals court last week upheld a denial of a motion by Century Aluminum Co. retirees for a preliminary injunction seeking continuation of certain

Rio turns to ex-BHP boss for help with aluminium arm
Sydney Morning Herald - 02-Sep-2011
RIO TINTO'S efforts to turn around its struggling aluminium division have been bolstered by the board appointment of the former BHP Billiton and Alcoa senior executive Chris Lynch.
Mr Lynch, now the chief executive of road toll group Transurban, has been appointed a Rio non-executive director.
Rio's aluminium division has not been paying its way since the group's ill-timed acquisition of Canada's Alcan in 2007 for $US38 billion. Radical surgery for the division's European operations is under way in an effort to lift returns from their 18 per cent margin on sales to more than 40 per cent.
Mr Lynch spent 20 years with US aluminium heavyweight Alcoa and knows the aluminium industry from the bottom up. He joined the company in 1979 and rose through the ranks to become vice-president and chief information officer of the global group.
Lynch was headhunted by BHP in 2000, initially to be the mineral division's chief financial officer. He went on to become group chief financial officer and then executive director and group president, carbon steel materials.
Mr Lynch moved on from BHP when he lost the two-way race with Marius Kloppers to become the new chief executive on the departure of Chip Goodyear.
Mr Lynch's appointment returns Australian representation on the board to where it was ahead of the departure of Sir Rod Eddington.
Rio chairman Jan du Plessis said Mr Lynch's appointment ''reflects the significance
The chairman of Transurban, Lindsay Maxsted, who became a BHP director in March, said that the company was ''satisfied that Chris will continue to fully meet his commitments'' as the CEO of Transurban.