Ormet's Tanchuk says Burnside alumina refinery to resume output 'within weeks'

Louisville, Kentucky (Platts)--27 Oct 2011 233 am EDT/633 GMT

Ormet Corp.'s long-idled alumina refinery in Burnside, Louisiana, will resume production "within the next few weeks," Michael Tanchuk, the Ohio-based aluminum producer's CEO, said Wednesday.

The company had said the refinery was expected to start producing alumina before the end of October. While that timetable may not be met, Tanchuk said: "We're in the final stages. You're in the midst of a restart so it's unpredictable at this point in time."

Ormet recently achieved its goal of hiring 250 employees to operate the refinery. That's about how many people the plant employed when it closed in late 2006 because of low alumina prices.

The refinery will have a capacity of 540,000 mt/year, and most of which will be shipped to Ormet's six-potline 270,000 mt/year aluminum smelter in Hannibal, Ohio.

Tanchuk said Ormet could have an unspecified amount of alumina to sell in 2012, although the long-term plan is for Hannibal to use all of the alumina.

Meanwhile, the refinery restart has generated other spinoffs. Impala Warehousing, a business unit of Trafigura, an international commodity trader, bought Ormet's nearby river terminal for $28 million in June.

Impala and Trafigura plan to invest $100 million in remodeling and expanding the port facility, making it a key shipping point for coal imports and exports as well as an inbound destination for Ormet's bauxite shipments and an outbound terminal for alumina shipments from Burnside to Ormet's Ohio smelter.

--Bob Matyi, newsdesk@platts.com

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