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2010-02-18 digital edition

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2010-02-18 / General Stories

Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa Met for Alcoa Status Report

“What’s happening at Alcoa?” was the main question on the minds of members and visitors at the January meeting in Cameron of the Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa (Rockdale Operations)— CAPARO. Location manager Royce Haws reported on environmental compliance, worker safety, jobs, and economics in response to CAPARO interests.

The facility had one reportable environmental incident in 2009 compared to 8 in 2008 and 11 in 2007. There was one recordable workplace injury last year and no lost-time injuries.

Members learned the current headcount is about 70 and expected to remain at that level for 2010 and until the facility either restarts or is shut down, neither of which is expected short term. About 50 employees work in the atomizer, 7-8 in Sandow mine reclamation, and the remainder in facility wide positions. Employees brought back to pull smelting pot metal pads completed their work and left in November. There is business for the atomizer, which ended the year with a profit. The smelter remains temporarily idled.

Multiple questions were raised when Haws reported that Alcoa announced a joint venture with Saudi Arabia to build a new smelter in that country, slated for startup in 3 years. It will match the capacity of all U.S. Alcoa smelters combined and operate at the lowest cost of Alcoa smelters, partly because its fuel will be flare gas. The facility will integrate bauxite, alumina refining, aluminum smelting, and a rolling mill on one site.

Rockdale Operations is maintaining the smelter and keeping its environmental permits current so it is ready to start up if it becomes economically feasible to do so. Though the price of aluminum has risen, costs have not declined and there is more than enough inventory worldwide to meet demand.

Asked about sale of the Sandow land after reclamation, Alcoa’s Tommy Hodges said none would be considered until the reclamation process is complete and the company released from bond. The permit anticipates this will be in 2017. At this time, or if the plant were decommissioned, land sales of the main acreage could be considered by the corporation. Typically Alcoa sells to government entities, not to the public or to housing developers.

Visitors are welcome to hear the next Alcoa update on Monday, April 12 from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. in Blue. For details, contact CAPARO facilitator Diane Sheridan at 800/484-9212 x 4127 or

Area residents are also welcome to contact CAP member Bob Lee at 979/542-3006.

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