Alcoa Corp. announced plans to restart three of five potlines at its Warrick Operations aluminum smelter near Evansville, Indiana, an action that will further improve the competitiveness of the on-site rolling mill. The process to restart the three lines, with 161,400 metric tons (mt) of annual capacity, will begin immediately and is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2018. The three potlines will directly supply the Warrick rolling mill, which serves the North American market with flat-rolled aluminum for the food and beverage can packaging industry. The smelter’s molten metal will supplement purchased scrap metal and other raw materials that the Warrick site will continue to procure.
“By restarting a portion of the Warrick smelter, we will provide an efficient source of metal for the co-located rolling mill and help it meet an anticipated increase in production volumes,” said Tim Reyes, president of Alcoa’s Aluminum business unit. “The action will enable us to more fully utilize the assets at this integrated site for the benefit of our investors, customers, employees and the community.”
The smelter at Warrick closed in March 2016. Two of the five smelting potlines will be classified as curtailed capacity and will remain idle. After this partial restart, Alcoa will have approximately 886,000 mt idled of its total smelting capacity of 3.4 million mt.
The Warrick location currently employs about 1,250. The restart will increase the site’s employment by approximately 275, including those who will be hired or recalled from layoff status. Some existing employees will transfer to the smelter.
The federal, state and local governments have all been supportive of the restart plan. Alcoa said it appreciates the actions the President Donald Trump administration has taken to address the challenges faced by the U.S. aluminum industry, including Chinese overcapacity.