Century may mothball plant if power deal falls through

Jul 25, 2013 | 10:59 AM | Michael Cowden

Tags  Century Aluminum Co., aluminum production, power supply, Hawesville, Ky smelter, power costs, shutdown, Kentucky Public Service Commission KPSC

CHICAGO — If a deal between Century Aluminum Co. and its power suppliers in Kentucky is not approved by Aug. 19, the company may have to permanently close its smelter in Hawesville, Ky., a company official said.

The Hawesville smelter will stop operating on Aug. 20 if an agreement between Kenergy Corp., Big Rivers Electric Corp. and Chicago-based Century is not consummated, Sean Byrne, plant manager of the smelter, said in recent testimony to the Kentucky Public Service Commission (KPSC).

"The practical economic reality is that, if operations cease at the Hawesville smelter, it will, very likely, never reopen," Byrne said.

That’s because a shutdown of more than three hours "freezes" molten aluminum in the smelter’s potlines, making a $100-million investment necessary to restart the operation, Byrne explained. "In a globally competitive industry where margins are extremely thin, a capital investment of this magnitude is not recoverable," he said.....

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