AluNews

Alcom set to sustain recovery

The Star Online - August 31st, 2012

PETALING JAYA - Aluminium Company of Malaysia Bhd (Alcom) says it will be able to sustain its recovery after being hit by soft demand for its products globally last year.
The company has been affected by the US and eurozone economic crisis, regional impact of the earthquake in Japan, political crisis in the Middle East and North Africa as well as severe flooding in Thailand.
Newly appointed managing director Tom Boney said Alcom would begin to build a higher-value product portfolio while broadening and deepening its customer base and relationships.
“We will further enhance our cost management, operating performance and productivity levels, which will be essential for margin preservation and to deliver a strong financial performance,” he said after Alcom AGM.

Ansuman Das takes over as Nalco CMD

The Pioneer - August 31st, 2012

Bhubaneswar - Ansuman Das, Director (Commercial) of the National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco) has been given additional charge of the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the company. He replaced BL Bagra as the Navratna PSU’s CMD.
Das graduated in Mechanical Engineering from REC, Rourkela (now National Institute of Technology) in 1976 and did his MBA from the University of Hull, UK, with a British Council Scholarship under the Colombo Plan. He started his career with the HAL before joining the Nalco in 1982 in its formative years as Senior Engineer in Project and Technical Service Department in Bhubaneswar.
He subsequently rose to the level of GM (Marketing) and was instrumental in formation of various marketing policies and strategies both for domestic and overseas sales. The Nalco has achieved several milestones through his and his teams’ initiatives. With his three-decade-long professional association with the aluminium industry, he is very well known both nationally and internationally for his contribution to the industry.

Locals demand more bauxite for Vedanta’s refinery in Odisha

Firststop - August 30th, 2012

Apprehensive about the future of the alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminium at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, local people observed a bandh demanding bauxite for the company.
With VAL having to run its refinery at 40-50 percent of its capacity, the people under the banner of the Lanjigarh Anchalika Vikash Parishad feared that a halt in production would lead to loss of jobs and livelihood.
The people from Lanjigarh and adjacent places like Biswanathpur, Daikhal and Ambadala shouted slogans demanding immediate allocation of bauxite to the refinery which is facing a crisis due to shortage of the raw material.
Sridhara Pesnia, president of the Parishad said, “The alumina refinery should be provided bauxite from Odisha. The state and central governments must ensure this. If it is not done local people will be affected badly.”
Stating that a large number local people depend on the refinery for their livelihood, Pesnia said, “We will go to the Chief Minister and if necessary to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister to ensure that a bauxite mine is provided to Vedanta.”

Vietnam's Vinacomin to start trial runs in Sep at first alumina refinery

Platts - August 29th, 2012

Vietnam's Vinacomin is hoping to start trial production at the country's first alumina refinery in September, a company source said Tuesday.
The 600,000 mt/year plant in Lam Dong province is expected to undergo at least three months of trial runs before commercial production, the source said earlier.
Vinacomin also plans to ink yearly contracts with other customers, and is hoping its material will find outlets in China, Malaysia and the Middle East, the source said earlier. Discussions with direct term contract customers have been put on hold pending the plant's commissioning, he said.
The alumina shipments will be made via the Go Dau river port in Dong Nai province, switching after 2015 to the yet-to-be-constructed Ke Ga deepwater port in Binh Thuan province.
The refinery will be backward integrated, supported by Vinacomin's local bauxite mine. The refinery's EPC contractor is Chalieco, the engineering arm of China's Chalco.

Ewarton announcement in two weeks

Go-Jamaica - August 28th, 2012

The country could hear more details about the future of the Ewarton bauxite plant in St. Catherine within the next two week.
Workers and communities which benefit from the plant have been on edge ever since the energy minister announced that the owners of the plant indicated it would be temporarily shut down for a year beginning in October.
Following that announcement UC Rusal, which owns Ewarton, later denied the claim.
Since then the parties have been having discussions on the future of the plant.
A senior official at the energy ministry says the talks are proceeding and an announcement is expected to be made soon.
On Sunday, UC Rusal took out a full page advertisement highlighting its commitment to the bauxite and alumina industry.
The company said despite the current economic volatility, it believes the aluminium industry has strong fundamentals for long-term growth.

China's Chalco moves to secure Indonesia bauxite

MarketWatch - August 28th, 2012

BEIJING - China is intensifying its search for a crucial raw material used to make aluminum, and is preparing to move refining capacity offshore following recent moves by its largest supplier to tighten export controls over mineral ores.
Chinese mining major Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. ACH +0.10% said Monday that its subsidiary has signed a deal with Indonesian miner PT Indonusa Dwitama to develop a bauxite refinery in the Southeast Asian nation.
The world's second-largest alumina producer, also known as Chalco, joins a growing group of Chinese metal majors forging directly into Indonesia's mining sector after Jakarta in May slapped a 20% export tax on mineral ores in an effort to develop the nation's own metal-processing capability.
Chalco Hong Kong Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary, will develop the project in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province. Chalco didn't disclose a value or timeframe for the project. A spokesman for the company didn't immediately respond to a call requesting comment.
Earlier this month, Bosai Minerals Group Co., China's largest bauxite producer, said it would invest $1 billion to build a similar plant in Indonesia. Bauxite is processed into alumina, which is then electrolyzed to produce aluminum.
Analysts said Shandong Weiqiao Aluminum & Electricity Ltd. may also be planning a similar migration, but the smelter hasn't confirmed the move.
The race to secure bauxite underscores how Chinese state-owned companies can afford to pursue a longer-term quest for market share even as global aluminum oversupply forces majors such as Alcoa Inc. AA +0.94% and Russia's United Co. Rusal PLC to cut output. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of refined aluminum.
"Even though domestic aluminum oversupply is severe, Chinese state-owned enterprises don't necessarily need to cut output as their revenues are tied to local governments and local jobs," Shanghai Cifco analyst Jiang Haihui said, referring to a chronic Chinese aluminum capacity surplus that has worsened in recent months due to China's economic slowdown.
These two factors led Chalco to a net loss of 3.25 billion yuan in the first half as Chinese aluminum prices slid around 9% from their peak this year, tracking a deeper 20% slump in London counterparts from March.
China is aiming to circumvent Jakarta's impending ban on exports of 65 unrefined minerals in 2014, Mr. Jiang said. Indonesia is a crucial source of bauxite for China, in years past accounting for as much as 80% of Chinese bauxite consumption. Chinese bauxite is generally regarded as of inferior quality.

Italians occupy mine 400 metres underground

ZEENEWS.com - August 28th, 2012

Rome - Around 40 mine workers have occupied a coal mine on the Italian island of Sardinia, demanding investment in a 200 million euro project.
The workers at the mine belonging to Carbosulcis di Nuraxi Figus are 400 metres below the ground.
A load of coal has been dumped at the entrance of the mine, making access possible only by foot.
Sardinia, once one of Italy's most active mining areas, has seen the sector dying as companies board up shafts and move elsewhere to extract valuable minerals.
Reports said US aluminium giant Alcoa will close a smelter in Sardinia if it cannot find a buyer, leading to a loss of 500 jobs.

UPDATE 1-RUSAL's co-owner SUAL opposes alu capacities shutdown

Reuters - August 27th, 2012

SUAL Partners, a co-owner of Russia's RUSAL, the world's largest aluminium producer, said on Monday it opposed RUSAL's plan to shut down some aluminium capacities.
RUSAL would cut capacity 3 percent by the year-end and was taking a charge on its investment in Africa, as it grapples with weak prices and rising power costs, the company said earlier on Monday.
SUAL's representatives in RUSAL's board voted against this capacity cut programme last week, SUAL said in a statement on Monday.
RUSAL called the SUAL statement "confusing and contradictory."
In a statement, RUSAL said SUAL representatives on its board had "on several occasions over the last six months ... brought up the question of curtailing the inefficient capacities at (RUSAL's) smelters, pushing management to develop and approve the curtailment programme."
RUSAL, which produces 9 percent of the world's primary aluminium, has been hurt by persistently weak prices for the metal used in drink cans, car parts, planes and iPads. Slack demand and overproduction have pushed prices near two-year lows.
SUAL Partners owns 15.8 percent shares stake in RUSAL, which is controlled by Russia's businessman Oleg Deripaska.

Rusal seeks Chinese partners to exploit aluminum in Siberia

Morning Whistle - August 27th, 2012

United Company Rusal Plc (0486.HK), the world’s biggest aluminum producer, is seeking Chinese partners to set up joint venture factories in Russia’s Siberia region, the Beijing-based Jinghua Times reported Monday.
The Russian company, which accounting 9 percent of global alumina and aluminum output, just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association on Saturday.
A senior official from the aluminum giant indicated that a special work team has already been set up to attract Chinese investment into resource-rich Siberia, according to the report.
Siberia has one of the world's biggest bauxite mines while the price of electricity, which is essential to turn bauxite into alumina, is cheap, according to the China Daily.
Producing a ton of alumina would cost roughly $1,600 in Siberia, compared with $2,250 in China's Henan province.
Analysts said the industry has been affected by high electricity prices. "Electricity costs account for nearly 45 percent of the total production costs of aluminum," said Wang Lixin, a researcher at umetal.com, a nonferrous metals industry website in Beijing.
About 80 to 90 percent of aluminum producers in China are losing money because of falling prices, the Global Times reported, citing Jia Mingxing, vice chairman of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

United Company RUSAL : PROGRAM OF REPLACING LESS EFFICIENT ALUMINIUM SMELTERS WITH MODERN PRODUCTION FACILITIES

4-traders - August 26th, 2012

United Company RUSAL Plc (the "Company") announces that its Board of Directors (the "Board") approved a long term program of gradual reduction of primary aluminium production at a number of less efficient aluminium smelters currently owned and operated by the Company (the "Program").
In order to maintain a competitive position in the global aluminium market, the Company is contemplating a permanent reduction of primary aluminium smelting capacity with a high relative cash cost position per tonne of primary aluminium.
The Company will place under review and evaluation the feasibility of decommissioning of the following smelters (hereinafter, the "Smelters"): Bogoslovsk aluminium smelter ("BAZ"), Volkhov aluminium smelter ("VAZ"), Nadvoitsy aluminium smelter ("NAZ") and pot rooms 3 and 4 of Phase 1 of Novokuznetsk aluminium smelter ("NkAZ").
The Company estimates that the Program will affect approximately 275 thousand tonnes of primary aluminium capacity (if compared with 2011 production).
Subject to the review proving the feasibility of curtailment and permanent reduction of smelting capacities, it is expected that up to 150 thousand tonnes of the smelting capacities could be decreased by the end of 2012 with the remainder to be gradually decreased in stages by 2015 and 2018.
Under the Program, it is envisaged that the decommissioning of the Smelters will coincide and be aligned with the commissioning of modern and highly efficient facilities in Siberia, including the commissioning of the Boguchany aluminium smelter.

Vedanta refinery cuts output on bauxite shortage

ZEEBIZ.com - August 26th, 2012

Bhubaneswar - Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) has cut down production by about 50 percent at its refinery in Odisha due to scarcity of bauxite, a top official said Saturday.
The one-million-tonne per annum alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, about 600 km from here, has been operating at about 40-50 percent capacity for the past few days, VAL president Mukesh Kumar told reporters.
"We have sent teams to various places to see if some where it (bauxite) can be located. However, right now, we are not seeing any hope," he said.
VAL, an associate company of Vedanta Resources Plc, was getting about 50 percent of the required bauxite from its mines in Chhattisgarh, and was buying the remaining from the miners in other states.
The Mainpat mine in Chhattisgarh has shut operation due to want of environmental clearance.
"It was supplying about 30 percent of our requirements," Kumar said.
The supply it was getting from miners in other states has also been hit as most of them shut operation due to the new rule on mining lease renewal, he said.
Set up with an investment of $800 million, VAL requires three lakh tonnes of bauxite per month to run the refinery at full capacity.
However, due to bauxite shortage, the company has been running the refinery at reduced capacity since it was commissioned in August 2007.
Vedanta wants to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills located near its refinery but its clearances are mired in litigations and protests.
It has also applied for several other bauxite reserves in the state, but none of them have materialised so far.
Bauxite is the main raw material used to produce alumina.

Bissau government to review Angola Bauxite deal, calls it unfair

Reuters - August 24th, 2012

BISSAU - Guinea-Bissau's transitional government said it will renegotiate a deal with Angola Bauxite as the current agreement, signed by a government ousted in an April coup, is unfair.
Angola Bauxite, part-owned by the Angolan state, first signed a $500 million plan to build a mine and deepwater port in Guinea-Bissau in 2007 to handle bauxite, the ore from which aluminium is made. Progress has been slow due to political uncertainty.
"The transitional government will not accept that Bissau receives 10 percent (of revenues) while Angola Bauxite takes 90 percent," Vaz added.
An official at Angola Bauxite, which had sent a delegation to Bissau to discuss restarting the project, was not immediately available for comment.
The project is due to create a deepwater port at Buba with a capacity of three 70-tonne vessels simultaneously, and a 3-million tonne per year mine in Boe, 240 km (149 miles) southwest of Bissau.

UAE - ARABAL 2012: A focus into the growth of Aluminium in the automotive sector

Foundry-Planet - August 24th, 2012

The premier trade event of the UAE’s Aluminium industry, the 16th Arab International Aluminium Conference (ARABAL 2012) – will be held from 20 to 22 November in Doha Qatar. The conference will be held at the Grand Hyatt Doha, under the patronage of Ministry of Energy and Industry. Looking at the growing demand for automotive Aluminium around the world, the conference plans to focus on the highly projected demand for Aluminium in the transport sector.
The low LME price is one concern that is being discussed in every present conference or events happening around the Aluminium industry. The prevailing financial, investment, economic and political activities along with the forces of supply and demand work together to bring the price down or pull it up. The surrounding challenges and changes in the Aluminium industry, the amount of competition and the quality of production, ease of access to markets of demand, energy prices, exchange rates and the changing government are other factors influencing the Aluminium price. ARABAL aims to discuss the surrounding situations as well as the future prospects of the Aluminium market so that a solution can be meted out to correct the present industry situation. Rising demand for Aluminium industry outputs means there is animated activities in transport, real estate, industry and other vital sectors. At present, it is the automotive sector that is posing a bright prospect for the Aluminium industry because of the new CAFE standards in US and Europe.
The use of aluminum is increasing across all market segments and application types in the transport sector. And the trend is expected to continue in the in future. Automotive aluminum is gaining preference in vehicle engineering as the emphasis is shifting towards manufacturing more eco-friendly, fuel-efficient, stylish and lightweight cars with anti-aging properties. Automaker’s effort to improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emission in vehicle is expected to boost the demand for Aluminium in the auto industry heavily by 2025.
The ARABAL organizers have noted the forthcoming developments in the transport sector and their impact on the Aluminium industry. Especially, the automobile, bus, aircraft and ship manufacturing sectors are shifting their focus increasingly to the use of Aluminium from Metals like iron and steel which have been traditionally used in this sector. Car manufacturers like Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are considering optimum use of Aluminium in their cars for fuel economy and easy maintenance. ARABAL plans to highlight the growth prospective for Aluminium and its impact on the global Aluminium market to an audience comprising of leading Aluminium producers.
“Arabal will see a concentrated focus on the transport industry this year, as indicators have shown an increasing demand for industrial outputs in the transport sector in North America, particularly the USA”, the organizers said.
The new CAFE standards of the US government mentions that CO2 must get reduced to just over 100 grams per mile and the new regulations urges the automotive companies to reduce vehicle emissions, improve safety, and enhance fuel economy. The obligation to adhere to the new standards will indirectly shift the focus to Aluminium.
The overall consumption of semi-manufactured Aluminium is expected to reach 3.6m tonnes by 2016, according to recent forecasts, a significant increase over the 2.5 million tonnes reported in 2011. This means that an annual average growth rate of 7.4 percent is expected in the period from 2012 until 2016. That is good news for the Aluminium producers who have been reeling under pressure due to low aluminum price and the economic slowdown as a whole.
Many Aluminium producers in the USA and Europe are undergoing expansions to supply to the renewed demand by the automobile manufacturers. In new car models by BMW and Mercedes Benz and Audi, 85 percent of the construction material is expected to be Aluminium which will reduce the total weight of the cars. These new development indicates that demand for Aluminium is expected to be stable, even if the production levels were reduced. The aerospace industry is expanding its contracts with the Aluminium manufacturers for the supply of plates and chips and other Aluminium related materials. Leading aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing have reported a significant growth in demand for Aluminium.
The Conference will focus on future of Aluminium and manufacturing industries, market, technology and recycling. Qatalum’s Communications Manager, Ibrahim J Fakhri, said, “The conference is diverse, rich, and scheduled to host representatives of leading companies from the region and across the globe operating in this vital sector.” Qatalum’s environment friendly smelter makes use of the latest state-of-the-art smelting technologies and has a production capacity of 585,000 tons of high-quality primary Aluminium products annually, which will be attracting a great deal of attention from manufacturers attending the conference.
ARABAL is the only conference in the world attended by every single primary Aluminium manufacturer from the Middle East. It is also the conference of choice for anyone interested in the Middle East Aluminium industry. Therefore, it will serve as a big platform to highlight the growth possibility of Aluminium industry in the transport sector.

India’s Nalco Expanding, But Aluminum Production Cutbacks Still Elusive

MetalMiner - August 23rd, 2012

President of Vedanta Aluminum Ltd, India’s numero uno aluminum producer, Mukesh Kumar, told Reuters that due to the closure of some of the aluminum smelters in the US, the demand had improved marginally.
Vedanta Aluminum is part of the billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Group, and produces about 40 percent of the South Asian nation’s total output.
Nalco’s aggressive expansion plans include projects around power supply in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
According to a report in the Deccan Herald, the Odisha-based Nalco had lined up two multi-million dollar projects in that state. While an aluminum refinery project was expected to get the go-ahead from the government soon, work was currently on to construct two units (each capable of producing 700 MW) of the proposed nuclear power plant.
One of the reasons, according to Nalco Chairman-cum-Managing Director B.L. Bagra, who was quoted in this report, to select Gujarat for its two important projects was the availability of land. Nalco has had its fair burden of delays arising out of land acquisitions in other states, including the State of Odisha where has many of its major projects — among them two mega steel plants.
Bagra also said the PSU had decided to set up the refinery project after the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) had said it would supply the raw materials for 25 years from the bauxite mines in Gujarat’s Kutch region.

Aluminum still needs more production cuts

MENAFN - August 22nd, 2012

The aluminum price briefly touched a three-year low of $ 1,827.25 per ton on the London Metal Exchange (LME) last week.
It managed to avoid falling off a technical cliff, just, but the pressure is still on, three-month metal already trading as low as $1,830 in early trading yesterday.
Analysts are near unanimous in their collective view that a significant price recovery will need more producer cutbacks to rebalance supply with demand.
Superficially at least, they will be heartened by the latest set of global production figures released on Monday by the International Aluminium Institute (IAI).
These showed global run-rates falling by an annualized 940,000 tons in July relative to June.
However, there is still little evidence that producers either in China or the rest of the world are yet ready to bite the collective bullet in a way that would satisfy the market.
It's important to put last month's drop in global output into context, following as it did all-time record production of 45.2 million tons annualized in June.
Moreover, most of the July fall in production came from China, where annualized run-rates fell by 826,000 tons.
It was the first decline in the country's output since March and follows a cumulative 2.1-million ton increase over the course of April, May and June.
There's no denying the pain being felt by local producers. The country's largest, Aluminum Corp. of China (Chalco), has just flagged a first-half net loss of 3.25 billion yuan ($ 510.8m).
But whether that pain is now translating into producer discipline is another issue.
Chinese production of the light metal has fallen in July relative to June in three of the last four years. That suggests that the latest decline could be primarily seasonal rather than structural.
Proof either way will only come with the next couple of months' figures.
But the underlying issue is that market forces, namely the low price, are being counteracted by non-market forces, namely government subsidy.
Analysts at AZ China, for example, estimate that provincial governments are propping up around a quarter of domestic production, something like five million tons annualized, through power subsidies. Moreover, the idea of central government support is back on the agenda, smelters lobbying for a revival of a scheme to buy up surplus metal.
The last time this was done in 2009, the State Reserves Bureau bought 590,000 tons of metal at above-market prices via auctions open to only a handful of state "favorites."
The message, now as then, is that the Chinese state will not contemplate mass closures in a sector viewed as strategically important.
The price can fall further. But whether Chinese production will be allowed to fall with it is quite another matter.
Outside of China aluminum production has been on a gently declining path for several months. Production in July slipped by another 110,000 tons to 24.6 million tons annualized, bringing the cumulative drop to 1.3 million tons since October 2011, when the aluminum price first started moving into cost-curve territory.
That cumulative figure is higher than the one million tons of announced cutbacks because it includes involuntary cuts at Rio Tinto's Alma plant in Canada (union lock-out) and at BHP Billiton's Hillside plant in South Africa (technical problems).
Both will ramp back up over the coming period.
As they do so, the impact of other production cuts, most of them announced in the early part of the year, will fade.
What is frustrating aluminum bulls is the lack of new "news" about production cuts.
There have only been two developments over the last month and neither of them is going to set the aluminum world on fire.
In Bosnia, Aluminij Mostar said it will cut output by 12.5 percent, or by around 16,000 tons annualized. US producer Ormet, meanwhile, has said it intends to close one of its six potlines, representing around 44,000 tons of capacity. The fate of the other five are dependent on power price negotiations with local supplier American Electric Power.
There is still the suggestion by Russian giant UC Rusal that it might shutter 300,000-600,000 tons of capacity later this year but the prospect has been around for so many months that any confirmation could hardly be viewed as news.
Outside of China aluminum producers are being kept afloat not by government subsidy, although there are specific examples, but by investment demand for metal.
Stocks financiers still seem to have an almost unlimited appetite for buying short-dated aluminum to earn the contango on the forward curve. The positive impact on producers is twofold.
Firstly, by soaking up surplus units investment demand is preventing the sort of sales volume collapse experienced by the aluminum production sector in 2008-2009.
Secondly, investment demand is translating into historically high physical premiums, both directly by quarantining large amounts of surplus metal from the physical market and, indirectly, by incentivizing warehouse operators to bid directly for more metal to store.
Physical premiums just about everywhere are either at or close to record highs, providing an important financial lifeline to margin-compressed smelters the world over.
As analysts at Barclays Capital point out, even assuming an individual smelter only receives part, say 50 percent, of the realized premium, that would still be enough to pull 3.4 million tons of a price-challenged 10.5 million tons of global capacity back into positive margin territory.
All of which helps explains why the LME aluminum price has been bumping along the bottom of a $1,830-1,930 range for the last month or so.
In theory it's the sort of price level that should generate a global producer reaction.
In practice, government intervention (China) and investment demand (everywhere else) are helping cushion the impact of price.
Yet, it seems very unlikely, bar an unexpected rebound in global manufacturing activity, that the aluminum price can stage any sustained upside move without a more fundamental realignment of fundamentals.
It's a precarious status quo but one that could be sustained for several more months yet, or, as BarCap puts it, at least until "the mounting pressure from a third consecutive quarter of poor results in the sector (leads to) more aggressive decision-making by Q4 this year."

Vedanta to close Lanjigarh plant

The Financial Express - August 22nd, 2012

Bhubaneswar - Vedanta Aluminium, which runs a 1 million tonne alumina refinery in Orissa’s Kalahandi district, may shut down within a fortnight due to acute shortage of bauxite.
The ministry order came after the NC Saxena panel appointed by it recommended that mining in Niyamgiri would severely affect the ecology as well the primitive tribal group of Dongaria Kondhs living on the hill slopes.
“I have stock hardly for the next 5-7 days. I can’t risk running my plant with depleted stock,” said Mukesh Kumar, president, Vedanta Aluminium, who is also the chief operating officer of the Lanjigarh refinery.
“I have to close it down and then wait for bauxite supplies to resume.” The Lanjigarh plant has about 3,000 direct and indirect employees. However, the company’s 0.5 million tonne aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda won’t be affected much as it would continue to get the alumina from elsewhere. Vedanta officials said after the August 2010 blow, the company managed to run the plant through supplies from Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
With Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation forming a join venture with state-run Nalco for a 1 million tonne alumina plant in that state, it has stopped supplying bauxite to Vedanta for the last one and a half months.
The two bauxite mines of Vedanta’s sister concern Balco in Chhattisgarh have also shut down recently due to expiry of environmental clearances.
The supply from Jharkhand has also dried up due to expiry of environmental clearances and those from Andhra Pradesh also stopped in last couple of weeks after Union tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo demanded that mining should stop in scheduled areas of the state.

Analysis: More uncertainty for Hindalco stock

Business Standard - August 21st, 2012

Hindalco has touched a three-month low of Rs 111 after the pollution control board asked the company to shut its captive power plant in Orissa. The order to shut down its power plant in Hirakud in Western Orissa was given following a breach in its ash pond causing severe crop damage in the nearby areas.
This order will result in the company shutting down its 367 mw power plant which was used to fire its smelter in Hirakud. Though the company can pull power from the state grid, a Business Standard report quoting senior company officials said that Hindalco might have to shut down its operation.
Hirakud has the most cost-effective smelter within Hindalco at a production capacity of 161,000 tonne per annum of aluminium. This unit has a captive coal mine in Talabira which makes its production cheaper. This unit is also going in for an expansion of 60,000 tonne and the production of flat rolled products which would give the company entry in the aluminium can business in India.
Even if the company does not shut down its smelter, buying high cost power from the state government will affect its profitability till the captive power plant is commissioned. Press reports suggest that heavy rains resulted in Hindalco’s ash pond developing a crack which inundated the neighboring fields. While repairing the ash pond might take some time as it would require to be drained and then get the requisite clearances from the state authority, the recent developments have added to the growing uncertainty on the stock.
Hindalco has been hit on account of delay in clearance for its Mahan smelter which is already behind schedule. Further, its Utkal unit has not yet been commissioned.

Century Aluminium terminates smelter power pact

Market Watch - August 20th, 2012

Century Aluminum Co. CENX +1.85% has issued a 12-month notice to terminate its power contract with Big Rivers Electric Corporation for its Hawesville, Ky., smelter, citing unsustainably high power prices.
Chief Executive Michael Bless noted the smelter "is competitive on the global market in every category other than the price we pay for electric power, which is among the highest such rates for smelters in the U.S." Mr. Bless added the smelter isn't economically viable under the current power rate and market conditions.
"We need a power price that is reflective of the market, helps the plant weather these turbulent economic conditions and allows the plant to be competitive over the long term," he said.
During the 12-month notice period, Century is required to pay a demand charge for power, but is not obligated to continue operating the plant.
The company said it is "committed to exploring all available options to keep the smelter open both in the short term and long term." Failure to reach an agreement could jeopardize nearly 700 jobs.
Last month, Mr. Bless noted that the company is continuing in its "aggressive efforts" to secure electric power arrangements which will provide for the long-term competitiveness of its U.S. plants.

Question over Tiwai Point smelter

Radio New Zealand News - August 20th, 2012

The future of the Tiwai Point smelter is being questioned as falling global aluminium prices and the high New Zealand dollar eat into profits.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters says 100 jobs will be cut in the coming few years and renegotiating the company's electricity deal with Meridian Energy is now crucial.
Peneral manager Ryan Cavanagh says the cost of the electricity will go up in January and that will put more strain on an already deteriorating situation.
The smelter made a loss of $20 million last year.
Meridian Energy won't guarantee a new deal, saying it has an obligation to its own shareholders.
But Venture Southland says Meridian may have no option, because the Manapouri power station will be left stranded if the smelter closes.

First Bauxite Corporation Announces Appointment of New Director and Option Grant

Market Watch - August 17th, 2012

TORONTO - First Bauxite Corporation CA:FBX -3.85% (frankfurt:FBI)(berlin:FBI) ("First Bauxite" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has further strengthened its Board of Directors with the appointment of Mr. Alan Roughead as a Director.
Mr. Demetrius (Jim) Heras, one of the co-founders of the Company, who served for three years as its Chairman and an additional six years as a Director and was instrumental in shepherding the early growth and funding of the Company, has resigned. The Board of Directors, on behalf of all shareholders, wish to thank Jim for his dedication and hard work and his commitment to support the new Board and to continue to be a conduit to our loyal existing shareholders.
Mr. Roughead, who is based in Australia, brings over 25 years of experience in the industrial and refractory minerals space. During the last 12 years, until its sale to Sibelco, Alan was CEO & Director of Queensland Magnesia Pty Ltd, one of the world's largest producers of magnesia for the global refractory and chemical markets. Mr. Roughead holds a Bachelor of Economics (Hons.) degree from the University of Western Australia and served as a Director of Talison Minerals Pty Ltd. from 2007 - 2009.

Rio Tinto warns on closures

Business Day - August 16th, 2012

RIO Tinto has told big investors it will not hesitate to close underperforming assets, with Australia's Gove Alumina refinery one of those that could be in the firing line.
Rio chief executive Tom Albanese met big investors in Sydney yesterday afternoon and said aluminium assets in Australia, New Zealand and France could be vulnerable if poor market conditions continued.
The aluminium division's profit dropped 93 per cent in the June half-year compared with the year before.
Gove is one of several assets Rio has grouped into a division named Pacific Aluminium, which is primed for divestment.

Nalco on expansion mode, spreads wings to Gujarat

Deccan Herald - August 16th, 2012

It seems that Narendra Modi’s Gujarat will never be tired of its position as an investment hotspot as the western state, after attracting almost all the major public sector undertakings (PSU), is all set to get aluminium giant Nalco’s projects on it soil soon.
The Odisha-based National Aluminium company (Nalco) has already lined up two multi crore projects in Gujarat as part of its business expansion programme. While the Rs 4,500 crore aluminium refinery project is soon to get a green signal (a detailed project report is being prepared), work is on to construct two units (each capable of producing 700 MW) of the proposed nuclear power plant at a cost of Rs 11,500. The latter project, to be completed in collaboration with Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI), is scheduled to be commissioned by December, 2015.
Explaining the decision to select Gujarat for its two important projects, Nalco chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) B L Bagra said the availability of land for the multi crore nuclear power project swayed the company in favour of Gujarat.
He was referring to the hassles that crop up while obtaining land in other states, including Nalco’s parent state Odisha where many of its major projects (notably two mega steel plants, including Posco) were languishing in uncertainty for years because of land related issues.
On the proposed aluminium refinery in Gujarat, Bagra said the PSU decided to set up the project after the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) assured of providing raw materials for 25 years from the bauxite mines in Kutch region.
To expand its business, Nalco is also planning several other projects: A Rs 16,000 crore smelter plant in western Odisha, an aluminium refinery of 1.4 million tonne per annum capacity and a 50.4 MW wind power project in Andhra Pradesh. Bagra said the company is persuading the Odisha government to clear its proposals.

SouthGobi Resources profit spirals as licensing uncertainties remain

Mining Weekly.com - August 14th, 2012

TORONTO – Mongolia-focused coal miner SouthGobi Resources recorded spiralling profit during the second quarter, after the Mongolian government suspended its mining licence following an April takeover bid by Chinese aluminium firm Chalco.
On May 17, the Parliament of Mongolia approved a Foreign Investment Law (FIL) that regulates foreign direct investment into a number of key strategic sectors, which included mineral resources.
Shortly after promulgating the FIL, the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia (MRAM) suspended the exploration and mining licenses at a number of SouthGobi’s properties, including its flagship Ovoot Tolgoi coal mine, in southern Mongolia, leaving the company in limbo, as its suitor entered into negotiations with the Mongolian government to clarify the conditions of its proposed $926-million, 60% share takeover.
Subsequently, the company had curtailed all of its operations in the country owing to the uncertainty, and on Monday confirmed that no mining was taking place since June 30, nor would there during the third quarter.
SouthGobi in June also filed a ‘notice of investment dispute’ on the Mongolian government in terms of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Singapore and Mongolia, regarding its frustration with the MRAM’s failure to execute the premining agreements (PMAs) associated with certain exploration licences of the company, for which valid PMA applications had been lodged in 2011.

Carbon tax blamed for Qld smelter job cuts

9 News - August 14th, 2012

The federal opposition says the carbon tax is partly responsible for 90 job losses at Australia's largest aluminium smelter in Queensland.
Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella says an organisation restructure, as well as a blow-out in operating costs, taxes and over-regulation has hit Boyne Smelters hard.
"With the industry operating on such small profit margins, it's no surprise that the added expense of the carbon tax is the last straw for many businesses," she said in a statement.
Boyne Smelters, near Gladstone in central Queensland, has a production capacity of 545,000 tonnes of aluminium per year and employs 1500 people.
It is 59 per cent owned by Rio Tinto.
It is the second Rio Tinto project in Queensland revealed as being under pressure in a week.
Rio Tinto announced last Wednesday its Blair Athol mine, also in central Queensland, would close by the end of the year instead of 2016 as previously planned.

Smelter talks as Meridian squeezed

The Southland Times - August 14th, 2012

Meridian Energy has denied the company could be under pressure from the Government to resolve issues surrounding cheaper electricity at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.
Meridian chief executive Mark Binns told The Southland Times the company had to ensure it came up with the solutions that would be best for the state-owned company.
Yesterday, it confirmed a sharp fall in annual profits in the year to June 30. Net profit after tax plunged 75 per cent to $74.6 million.
Meridian has been approached by Pacific Aluminium, a business unit of global company Rio Tinto Ltd, to discuss potential changes to the smelter's electricity contract.
The mining giant has said it will close unprofitable smelters.
Mr Binns said he made it clear at the presentation of the annual result that Meridian would make a decision that acted in the best interests of the company.
"Reading some of the press, there seems to be this indication that Meridian's going to ‘take one for the team' if you like . . . I would just reiterate that the board and management are very clear about what their obligations are," Mr Binns said at the presentation.
Meridian were in discussions with NZ Aluminium Smelters and wanted to come to some sort of agreement with the business but it would take some time to evaluate all the possible outcomes to establish the way forward, he said.
It would be difficult to put a timeline on how long it would take until a decision was made, he said.
"Clearly we would like them to stay, but we would like them to stick to the contract," he said, adding that the talks were exploring whether a "mutually beneficial" deal could be reached.
While the Government has signalled Mighty River Power will be the first of a series of state-owned enterprise partial privatisations, there has been no discussion on which would be second.
Mr Binns said the uncertainty over the smelter contract, which uses about 14 per cent of New Zealand's electricity, made it harder to value the company.
He hinted that once a new line which exports electricity between the North and South Island was completed, the impact might fall more on Meridian's rivals.
Closure of the smelter would mean: "5000 gigawatt hours from New Zealand's most efficient power plant, with the HVDC link unleashed," Mr Binns said.
Meanwhile Invercargill's National MP Eric Roy said the Government was concerned about the financial situation at the Tiwai Point smelter.
The Australian Associated Press reported in June that the future of 500 jobs at Tasmania's Bell Bay aluminium smelter appeared to be secure after a new electricity deal between Pacific Aluminium and the Tasmanian state government.

Emirates Aluminium Said To Seek $4 Billion For Expansion

Bloomberg - August 13th, 2012

Emirates Aluminium Co., the company building the world’s biggest aluminum smelter in the United Arab Emirates, is seeking to raise $4 billion from loans and bonds to finance expansion, a banker familiar with the plan said.
The Abu Dhabi-based company also known as Emal aims to raise $500 million in loans from four export-credit agencies, between $2 billion and $2.5 billion from commercial-bank loans and the remainder by selling bonds, according to the banker, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The amortizing bank loans, to be repaid over 15.5 years, may be both conventional and Islamic, although their relative proportions have yet to be finalized, the banker said.
Emal’s debt will finance the company’s Phase II expansion, which aims to increase annual output to 1.3 million metric tons by June 2015, the banker said. The smelter units already producing are set to reach a capacity of 800,000 tons of aluminum annually later this year.

Regulatory hurdles force alumina refiners to cut production

The Economic Times - August 13th, 2012

Bhubaneswar - Regulatory hurdles and land acquisition problems are forcing alumina refiners to cut production, raising fears that India may have to rely more on exports for its aluminium requirement despite having huge reserves of the ore required for its production.
At 3.3 billion tonne, India has the world's fifth-largest reserve of bauxite, the principal source of aluminium. But tardy government clearances and land acquisition issues mean that most of its alumina refineries cannot operate captive bauxite mines, leaving capacity idle.
Every year, India produces 4 million tonne of alumina, which yields only 1.785 mt of aluminium. "It is unfortunate that instead of raising alumina production, the country will witness a fall in the output by at least 20%," said BK Mohanty, Advisor, Society of Geo-scientist and Allied Technologists. "Despite plenty of bauxite deposits, it is ridiculous that alumina refineries are starved of bauxite," Mohanty added.
According to the government's Aluminium Mission Plan 2010-20, domestic demand for the metal is expected to rise from 1.4 million tonne a year now to 5 million tonne by 2015 and 10 million tonne by 2020.
"India is a placed at advantageous position, but based on present conditions and regulatory embargoes introduced every day, it is doubtful whether the industry will be able to take advantage," said PK Jena, a mining expert and former director of Council of Industrial and Scientific Research.
Shortage of bauxite has forced Vedanta Aluminium to scale down production at its 1 million tonne per annum refinery at Lanjigarh, Odisha. The refinery has been working at 70% capacity, as the earmarked bauxite mine in Niyamgiri Hills could not be commissioned due to regulatory issues. Hindalco has not been able to access bauxite from the captive mines allotted to it at Maliparvat and Baphlimali in Odisha because of protests from local people. The commissioning plan of ANARAC's alumina refinery at Vizag, too, has gone awry for the same reason.

EU Commission market tests Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium commitments

Reuters - August 10th, 2012

The EU executive is inviting comments on commitments offered by Rio Tinto Alcan to address concerns that it may have infringed EU antitrust rules, the European Commission said on Friday.
The case concerns a technique, called AP aluminium smelting technology, which reduces energy consumption in aluminium production. The Commission's investigation focuses on the practice of Alcan and - following a 2008 merger - Rio Tinto Alcan of contractually tying the licences of its AP aluminium smelting technology to the purchase of aluminium smelter equipment supplied by a subsidiary.
To address these concerns, Rio Tinto Alcan has offered to modify its agreements to enable the licensees of the AP aluminium smelting technology to choose other suppliers.

Commission to help Dutch workers in aluminium industry

New Europe Online - August 10th, 2012

The European Commission has offered €1.5 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 616 redundant workers from Zalco Aluminium Zeeland Company NV and two suppliers with their re-integration into the labour market. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers for their approval.
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor said, "EGF funding can help the former workers of Zalco Aluminium to get new jobs by training them in new skills. Redundancies like this one are major shocks to regional economies. EU solidarity in helping to manage these difficult transitions is therefore important."
The personalised package of EGF co-funded measures aims to help the workers by offering them guidance, training and re-training, outplacement services and entrepreneurship promotion. There will also be measures to stimulate older workers to remain the labour market. All 616 redundant workers are targeted for assistance from the EGF.
The total estimated cost of the package is approximately €2.3 million, to which the EGF would provide €1.5 million.
The economic and financial crisis has seriously hit the construction and transport industries, two sectors which represent the main end-user market of aluminium products. As a consequence the European aluminium sector suffered from a sudden drop in consumer demand which results in redundancies.
The Zalco redundancies were a direct result of this drop in demand for aluminium products, in particular for extrusion billets used in construction and in the automotive sector. The construction industry in the EU has seen demand plummet as a result of the crisis.
EU aluminium production decreased accordingly to adjust to the slowdown in demand. Between 2008 and 2009 EU aluminium production fell by 21 %. This drop in demand together with the rising energy costs in particular between April 2010 and October 2011 had a great impact on Zalco's Aluminium Zeeland Company NV revenues and eventually the enterprise was declared bankrupt.
There have been 102 applications to the EGF since the start of its operations in 2007. Some €438.4 million has been requested to help about 91,000 workers.
The EGF was established at the end of 2006 and was designed to demonstrate solidarity from the many who benefit from openness to the few who face the sudden shock of losing their jobs. In June 2009, the EGF rules were revised to strengthen the role of the EGF as an early intervention instrument forming part of Europe's response to the financial and economic crisis.
Building on the experience acquired with the EGF since 2007 and its value added for the assisted workers and affected regions, the Commission has proposed to maintain the Fund also during the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework, while further improving its functioning.

ALUMINIUM 2012 feels rising demand

Foundry-Planet - August 10th, 2012

Aluminium industry optimistic: global demand is growing Trade fair with new exhibitor and surface records New hall segmentation at the new location in Düsseldorf
Global demand for Aluminium is set to increase in the medium term, in spite of the uncertainties in the international financial markets. Expectations in the industry are optimistic. The recovering demand from all major application markets is felt also by the world’s largest industry trade fair Aluminium 2012. Following its move from Essen to Düsseldorf, it will start out at the new location with 950 exhibitors from 50 countries and a significant increase in exhibition surface (+20 %) from 9 to11 October.
Already, the move to Düsseldorf generates new records for Aluminium and releases new energies: Many companies have taken advantage of the opportunity to noticeably enlarge their stands. What is more, as a result of the new hall planning for the trade fair, Aluminium will be able to allocate the halls even more clearly to individual exhibition segments. The trade fair will follow the process chain, from primary products and the associated technologies (Hall 9) to casting and Heat treatment as well as recycling (Hall 10) and semi-finished products (Halls 11 & 12) through to Surface treatment (Hall 13) and the themes of metal working and processing, welding and joining (Hall 14).
Supported by the German federation of the Aluminium industry GDA and EAA – European Aluminium Association, every two years the trade fair showcases the complete range of products and services offered by the industry: from the production of the material to processing through to the finished product. From the key players such as Alcoa, Constellium, Hydro, Trimet, SMS, BWG, Sapa or Quatalum through to smaller specialist providers, the international Aluminium industry will be represented in Düsseldorf.

RUSAL visit

Stabroek News - August 10th, 2012

The Russian-owned Bauxite Company Guyana Inc., (RUSAL) is ploughing ahead with its plan to expand operations in Guyana, and yesterday, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud inspected the company’s operations in Aroaima, Region 10.
The Government Information Agency said that Persaud was accompanied by RUSAL officials including its General Manager, Ruslan Volokhov and, representatives of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission.

Indonesia Still Suffers Shortage of Aluminium Supply

Bernama - August 8th, 2012

JAKARTA - Indonesia is still suffering from a shortage in aluminum supply as PT Asahan Indonesia Aluminium (Inalum), the only aluminium smelter in Southeast Asia, is only able to produce up to 260,000 tonnes a year while the domestic needs reach 800,000 tonnes, ANTARA news agency quoted an official as saying.
"Out of 260,000 tonnes of aluminum ingot a year produced by PT Inalum, only 40 percent of it goes to the domestic market," the official who is director general of international industrial cooperation of the ministry of industry, Agus Tjahajana, said here on Tuesday.
Based on the master agreement between the Indonesian government and the Japanese consortium, he said, 60 percent of PT Inalum`s production is exported to Japan.
"Indonesia is still short of aluminum supply and therefore is still dependent on imports," he said.
In view of that he said the acquisition of 100 percent shares of PT Inalum, by the government, following the expiration of the cooperation agreement between the Indonesian government and the Japanese consortium in October 2013, would be very crucial.
"By controlling Inalum fully, the government would be able to make a business strategy for the company in North Sumatra including prioritising the domestic needs. Inalum`s full acquisition would make the government able to determine expansion strategy," he said.
Agus said PT Inalum with its present ingot production capacity indeed cannot meet the domestic needs of aluminum ingot.
"Right now Inalum is supplying to 80 local companies in Java. One of the aims of PT Inalum`s expansion plan to increase the production capacity to 410,000 tonnes a year at a cost of US$1.5 billion is to meet the domestic needs," he said.

Increase in US demand for aluminium

MetalPowder Report - August 7th, 2012

The US Aluminium Association has estimated tha total aluminium demand in the United States and Canada for the first quarter of 2012 totalled 5.8 million lb, a 7.5% increase over the first quarter of 2011.
"Because of aluminium's low-weight and durability, people are turning to it for new and innovative application," said Heidi Brock, president of the Aluminium Association. "The North American aluminium industry is growing to meet this demand."
Compared to April 2011, net new orders of mill products reported by domestic producers increased 3.7%.
A significant increase was seen in demand for semi-fabricated or mill products which increased 7.9% over the first quarter of 2011. Total demand for semi-fabricated products climbed 5.4% over March 2011.
Primary production in April 2012 rose 2,056 metric tons/year over March 2012's rate, while secondary aluminium recovery increased 13% over March of 2011, according to the United States Geological Survey.
"While most markets are holding steady or beginning to look up, the key drivers are the transportation and electrical sectors," said Brock.
According to the Association, a report by Ducker Research says that aluminium as a%age of the automotive material mix will double by 2025 to 16%. "The transition to aluminium in the automotive sector is being driven by efforts to increase fuel-efficiency," remarked Brock. "Downweighting with aluminium increases fuel efficiency and performance while maintaining the highest level of safety."

Email raises steel for Phase II expansion

Trade Arabia - August 7th, 2012

Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Aluminium (Emal), a leading aluminium smelter, recently erected the first structural steel for its Phase II expansion.
It is the latest milestone for the UAE flagship industrial project and brings the company another step closer to becoming one of the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelters.
Once completed in 2014, the potline at the Al Taweelah site will be the longest in the world at 1.7 km, a statement said.
Saeed Al Mazrooei, Emal president and CEO, said: “I am pleased to see Phase II progressing on schedule. This milestone which was achieved as per plan is very critical to our first hot metal date.”
Yousuf Bastaki, Emal vice president, said: “The special steel structures are the first visible signs of our Phase II expansion and bring us yet another step closer to meeting the ambitious targets we have set ourselves. Emal is also pleased to cooperate with Emirates Steel who supplied the steel required for its expansion work.”
In total it will take 120 of the specially designed structures to facilitate the additional 444 reductions pots required to expand production to 1.3 million metric tonnes per year. It will take around one year to complete the installation of all 120 structures, according to the statement.

GCC aluminum production nears 5m tons/year by 2013

Saudi Gazette - August 4th, 2012

JEDDAH – The Gulf Aluminum Council (GAC) indicated that the overall production capacity of aluminum smelters in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could come close to 5 million tons a year by 2013 after the construction of Saudi Arabia’s Ma’aden Smelter.
Quoting a report conducted by Qatar Aluminum Company, GAC said that the production capacity is divided among Aluminium Bahrain (ALBA) with 880,000 tons, Dubai Aluminum with 1,002 million tons, Sohar Aluminum with 370,000 tons, Qatar Aluminum with 600,000 tons, Emirates Aluminum with 750,000 tons, and Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) with 740,000 tons.
The UAE, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar are all home to some of the largest smelters in the world, Deloitte said in its report "GCC: Tomorrow’s Aluminum Powerhouse".
Five smelters exist in the GCC today with a combined production capacity of just under 3.6 million tons. Their cumulative contribution to total global production in 2010 is estimated at 7 percent. Considering the fact that Ma’aden, a sixth smelter in Saudi Arabia, is set to become operational by 2013 while Emal’s robust expansion is scheduled for completion by 2014, the GCC is poised to become a primary aluminum production powerhouse with the expectation that the region will contribute to over 13 percent of the world’s aluminum production by 2013.
The region’s aluminum industry as a whole is conducive to investment given the availability and affordability of power and labor. In times when increasing costs is becoming critical for more and more primary producers around the globe, the Gulf presents a viable and attractive venue for investment in aluminum production across the entire industry’s value chain. Furthermore, the GCC smelters are evaluating and studying future expansion plans to increase their global production contribution to a cumulative capacity estimated at 7 million tons per annum by 2020.

US firm wins $337m Saudi aluminium deal

Arabian Business.com - August 3rd, 2012

Engineering and construction company Fluor Corp has won a $337m contract for an aluminum plant in Saudi Arabia.
The company said it has been awarded a contract from Maaden and Alcoa Inc to provide engineering, procurement and construction management services for an automotive sheet facility in Ras Al-Khair, Saudi Arabia.
Fluor's scope of work includes designing, constructing and commissioning the plant, which will have the capability to produce a range of products suitable for further downstream manufacturing in the aluminum complex.
These products include automotive heat-treated and non-heat-treated sheet, building and construction sheet and foil stock sheet.
"We are pleased to continue our relationship with Maaden and Alcoa to support the development of their aluminum complex in Saudi Arabia," said Rick Koumouris, head of Fluor's Mining & Metals business.
"This new manufacturing facility will help meet the global automotive industry's growing demands for new, lighter materials."
Once complete, the automotive sheet facility will produce lightweight aluminum to be used in vehicle manufacturing.
The new facility is part of the Maaden-Alcoa aluminum complex that is currently under development in Saudi Arabia.
The facilities, which include a mine, alumina refinery, aluminum smelter and rolling mill, will be one of the largest and most efficient aluminum complexes in the world.

Only suitor for Alcoa's Italy smelter pulls out -unions

Reuters - August 2nd, 2012

MILAN - The only potential suitor for Alcoa's (AA.N) Italian smelter has broken off talks with the government, labour unions said on Wednesday, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
The U.S. aluminium company had planned to close its Portovesme smelter on the island of Sardinia by mid-year as part of efforts to cut global output and costs [ID:nL5E8E9AX7].
Following strong objections from Italian authorities, Alcoa agreed in March to keep the smelter running for a further two months while it looked for buyers.
But the only interested party, German hedge fund Aurelius, pulled out of talks with the government after failing to present a viable industrial plan, the FIM CISL metalworkers union said.
The government has asked Alcoa to consider further offers and further extend the deadline for shutting the smelter, the union said following a meeting with officials.
"Although we could not reach an agreement so far, we will remain open to negotiations through August 31. As agreed by all parties in March, if there is no letter of intent at that time, the curtailment process will begin on September 1," Alcoa said in a statement.
The company said it was committed to keep all of its Portovesme employees fully employed until December 31. Then it would maintain the plant for one year to allow for a potential restart, by another operator, in case circumstances change.
"To allow for this option it is critically important to do the curtailment in an orderly fashion, it addded.
The company also said it would keep its commitment to provide employees with an earlier agreed social support package, including specific Italian schemes such as cassa integrazione and mobilita, as well as with retraining and professional assistance to help employees find alternative employment.
"We will work with all stakeholders to minimize the impact of this curtailment as much as possible," it said.
Under the March agreement, Alcoa would start powering down the smelter on September 1 if no letter of intent was signed with an investor by August 31. If no sale was closed by October 31, the shutdown - taking several days - would start on November 1, the U.S. company has said.
Unions and Sardinian authorities say a shutdown would cost about 500 jobs at Alcoa and about 1,000 ancillary ones - a bitter pill to swallow in a country where unemployment is rising and the economy shrinking.

Bosnia alumina plant halts production, risks closure

TradeArabia - August 1st, 2012

SARAJEVO - Bosnia's sole alumina plant, Birac, halted production on Wednesday after the Balkan country's main gas distributor cut supplies to the company over outstanding debts, Birac said in a statement.
"Production at the Birac factory was completely halted after all gas reserves had been exhausted," the statement said. The BH Gas distributor cut supplies to the plant on Tuesday.
Birac, majority-owned by Lithuania's Ukio Bank Investment Group and based in the eastern town of Zvornik, produces mainly alumina, a key raw material for the production of aluminium, and some quantities of zeolite and hydrates used in the chemical industry.
The factory's management said it would hold talks with BH Gas on Thursday to seek a solution for a debt of 22 million Bosnian marka ($13.8 million). Otherwise the plant is at risk of closing for good, Birac warned.
Mines in nearby Milici and Srebrenica, the main suppliers of bauxite to Birac, are also at risk, it said.
Birac has been struggling due to falling prices for aluminium and alumina on the world market and a rise in the price of gas.
It said last week the price gap had cost its operations around 2 million marka a day and that it would have to cut the wages of its 1,900-strong workforce by 10 percent over the next three months.
Struggling to pay its own debt to Russian gas export giant Gazprom, BH Gas has cut off gas to its big debtors including Birac and the Sarajevogas distributing company.
"Unless we pay at least part of the debt, the whole of Bosnia may be left without gas supplies in the following days," BH Gas official Salih Vatrenjak said.

ABB wins $24m Saudi Maaden contract

TradeArabia - August 1st, 2012

Zurich - Leading power and automation technology group ABB has won a $24 million contract from Saudi-based Ma’aden Aluminium Company (MAC) to execute a fast-track transmission substation project in the northeast of the Kingdom.
The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden), in a joint venture with Alcoa, is building an integrated aluminium mining, refining, smelting and rolling mill facility at Ras Al Khair.
As per the deal, ABB will design, engineer and supply a new 380 kilovolt (kV) outdoor gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) substation at Ras Al Khair power plant that will export 800 MW of power to the national transmission grid and feed a new aluminium smelter.
The project is scheduled for completion within ten months, said the Zurich-headquartered company.
“This substation will enhance power capacity and improve quality and reliability of supply for critical processes and sustained productivity at the new aluminium plant,” remarked Oleg Aleinikov, the head of ABB’s substations business, a part of the company’s Power Systems division.
“Our advanced technologies, project management capability and extensive experience are key factors when executing such fast-track projects,” he stated.
The multibillion dollar Ma’aden complex will produce 4 million tons per annum (mtpa) bauxite, 1.8 mtpa alumina, 740 kilo tons per annum (ktpa) of aluminium metal and 380 ktpa rolled products.
The smelter and rolling mill will commence production in 2013, while the mine and refinery will commence in 2014.

Vimetco obtains updated mining licence in Sierra Leone

StockMarketWire - August 1st, 2012

Vimetco, the global producer of primary and processed aluminium products, has announces that its bauxite producing subsidiary, Sierra Minerals Holdings (SMHL), has signed an updated Mining Lease Agreement (MLA) with the Government of Sierra Leone.
Under this agreement the Company's Mining Lease, of 321 square km in the Mokanji area of Sierra Leone, will be granted for a period of 20 years from the effective date, while the perimeters remain the same.
The updated MLA brings SMHL up to date with the latest legislation in the mining and minerals field in Sierra Leone.
"Vimetco is determined to continue its vertical integration strategy, focusing on securing all necessary raw materials for the entire production chain", said Gheorghe Dobra, CEO of Vimetco. "This agreement is yet another confirmation of our commitment to further developing our business from a sound and strong base."
Acquired in 2008, the bauxite mine in Sierra Leone has a resource base of approximately 31 million tonnes and produced over 1.3 million tonnes of bauxite in 2011, up from 1.05 million tonnes in 2010.