US Alcoa announces closure of aluminium smelter in Italy

28 June 2013 17:29  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Keeping with previously announced plans, US-based aluminium producer Alcoa said on Friday that it will permanently close its Fusina aluminium smelter in Venice, Italy, which has been curtailed since June 2012.

The planned closure will reduce Alcoa’s global smelting capacity of 4.2m tonnes/year by 44,000 tonnes, the company said in a press release. That is addition to 460,000 tonnes of smelting capacity that Alcoa previously announced was under review.

Aluminium is derived from an ore called alumina, which is created in a process that uses caustic soda. Alumina production is one of the key downstream consumers of caustic soda. Caustic soda is a co-product of chlorine in the chlor-alkali process.

Alcoa and other aluminium producers have for the past few years been curtailing or closing facilities in the wake of falling prices for aluminium, and have long said their demand for caustic soda is therefore diminished.

“The underlying conditions that led Alcoa to curtail the Fusina smelter in 2010 have not fundamentally changed,” Bob Wilt, Alcoa’s global primary products president, said. “Global aluminum prices remain weak and we must take action to maintain Alcoa’s competitiveness.”

At the 17th World Chlor-Alkali conference in Singapore earlier this month, Damian Reed, vice president of bauxite and alumina and metals company Rio Tinto, said global alumina production is likely to be further cut because at current prices about 20% of the world alumina market is loss-making.

Reed said there was risk of further smelter curtailments, which would put downward pressure on alumina demand and pricing. The conference was organised by ICIS and Tecnon OrbiChem.

Follow Ken Fountain (@ICIS_Ken)  on Twitter.

By: Ken Fountain

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