Alcoa shuts Warrick aluminum smelter in Indiana, rolling mill still operates

Louisville, Kentucky (Platts)--28 Mar 2016 428 pm EDT/2028 GMT

Alcoa has permanently closed a 269,000 mt/year primary aluminum smelter at its Warrick Operations in southwestern Indiana but continues to operate a rolling mill and coal-fired power plant at the site, which is located about 10 miles east of Evansville, a company spokesman said Monday.

Alcoa earlier this year said it planned to shut the 56-year-old smelter by the end of the first quarter as it was no longer financially viable.

By the end of Q2, Alcoa also expects to reduce alumina output by 1 million mt including curtailing the remaining 810,000 mt of refining capacity at its Point Comfort operations in Texas.

About 325 employees, many of them members of the United Steelworkers union, were laid off at Warrick, although some 1,100 employees remain, Alcoa spokesman Jim Beck said in an interview.

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"This is certainly the end of an era, and a tough day for the hundreds of employees who worked here at the smelter," Alexander Alford, location manager for the company's smelting division, said in a statement. "But I couldn't be more proud of the dedication and professionalism displayed by our employees to safely bring down the smelter over these past couple of months." Beck said the rolling mill will continue to operate uninterrupted.

But with the smelter's demise, Alcoa does not need to generate as much electricity from the nearby 755 MW Warrick power plant. Beck said less than 100 MW is needed to supply the mill. "We're going to adjust the generation at the plant to meet the need for the rolling mill," he said.

Alcoa and Evansville-based electric and natural gas utility Vectren, jointly own 323 MW Unit 4, the plant's largest unit, which went into commercial operation in 1970.

In 2008, Alcoa completed an investment of more than $400 million in pollution controls to upgrade the plant with wet-flue gas desulfurization equipment, or scrubbers, to lower emissions of sulfur dioxide and mercury.

--Bob Matyi,
--Edited by Valarie Jackson,

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