2010-10-07 / General Stories


Community Advisory Group Hears about Alcoa Status

Between Alcoa’s presentation and answers to member questions, the Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa (Rockdale Operations) heard about Rockdale Operations’ personnel changes, operations, property asset plans, Sandow reclamation, and legislative activity as well as the routine safety and environmental items when CAPARO met in Elgin in September. Reports were made by Alcoa’s Jim Hodson and Tommy Hodges.

Personnel changes included the move of former site manager Royce Haws back to the smelter in Indiana. Director of Asset Management Mark Stiffler, who is based in Pittsburgh, now has responsibility for the site. Stiffler will attend an upcoming CAPARO meeting. Most of the 70 active employees are working in the atomizer.

The atomizer, which makes powered aluminum for the auto paint systems and other products, is running at capacity and profitably and is expected to do so as long as orders remain at current levels. Members heard there is no change in smelter operations. Production remains curtailed but the facility is being maintained to keep permits active. Factors that determine whether it restarts include the cost of power, the price of aluminum on the London Metals Exchange, confidence as to whether that price will be maintained, the amount of aluminum in inventory worldwide, and the cost of startup. Startup would require hiring employees and training workers and could take a year or more.

Alcoa continues to consider how to generate income from assets that include property, production units, water, and structures. While various parties have talked to them about the water under Sandow Mine, no decisions have been made. Only small, noncontiguous pieces of land have been sold.

Earth moving and revegetation of the former Sandow Mine are slated for completion early in 2011. Alcoa must demonstrate stability of reclamation for 5 years before the Railroad Commission will consider it complete.

Legislatively, Alcoa promotes more recycling in Texas, specifically aluminum. Aluminum may be recycled again and again. It takes one-third as much energy to smelt as it takes to smelt primary aluminum. Aluminum corporations thus like recycled aluminum, though it cannot produce high purity products.

Asked about the outcome of the lawsuits that went to trial this summer, Alcoa declined to comment until outstanding issues are resolved. The process of transferring the Three Oaks Mine permits from Alcoa to Luminant is underway, with completion expected in several months.

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