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Aluminum manufacturers investing in new capacity

Keywords: Tags  aluminum, aluminum producers, Keith Harvey, Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Jack Hockema, Alcoa Inc., aluminum expansion, Myra Pinkham


Several major aluminum producers have been putting their money where their mouths are, investing in facilities aimed at such growing market segments as automotive and aerospace.

“We know that to compete globally, we need to be a low-cost producer if we don’t want to wallow in the low-price game,” said Keith Harvey, senior vice president of sales and marketing for aerospace and general engineering at Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif. “That is why Kaiser and many of our domestic competitors invest so much in facilities,” especially those aimed at supplying the transportation industry.

Harvey said that not only can Kaiser’s automotive-focused Kalamazoo, Mich., extrusions plant, which was expanded about two years ago, compete with any in the world, but the company also has invested in many of its other facilities as well. In fact, the company expects to complete a Phase 4 expansion at its Trentwood, Wash., rolling mill by the end of this year and could expand capacity there even further should demand from the aerospace sector continue to strengthen as anticipated.

Kaiser chairman, president and chief executive officer Jack Hockema said during the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call that each of the Phase 5, 6 and 7 expansions at Trentwood would take 18 to 24 months to complete and would increase the facility’s heat-treat plate capacity by 5 to 10 percent.

Alcoa Inc., Pittsburgh, has increased production capacity in some key areas of aerospace alloy supply, including aluminum-lithium at its Kitts Green facility in England and at its Upper Burrell, Pa., technology center. It also has broken ground on a greenfield aluminum lithium facility adjacent to its Lafayette, Ind., plant; once it comes online at the end of 2014, the facility will be able to cast round and rectangular ingot for rolled, extruded and forged aerospace applications.

Both Alcoa and Novelis Inc., Atlanta, have announced major investments to increase their ability to service the automotive industry in light of anticipated growth in aluminum demand in that sector not just due to rising build rates but also aluminum’s increasing use in vehicle light-weighting.

Alcoa is investing $300 million at its Davenport, Iowa, rolled products plant to install new technology and equipment aimed at the company’s new 951 bonding technology, which the producer is looking to license to automakers.

Novelis is investing $200 million to expand its rolling operations in Oswego, N.Y. The company said the expansion will result in a 200,000-tonne increase in production capacity there, which is five times the company’s current North American capacity for aluminum sheet for the automotive industry.Myra Pinkham

Several major aluminum producers have been putting their money where their mouths are, investing in facilities aimed at such growing market segments as automotive and aerospace.

“We know that to compete globally, we need to be a low-cost producer if we don’t want to wallow in the low-price game,” said Keith Harvey, senior vice president of sales and marketing for aerospace and general engineering at Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif. “That is why Kaiser and many of our domestic competitors invest so much in facilities,” especially those aimed at supplying the transportation industry.

Harvey said that not only can Kaiser’s automotive-focused Kalamazoo, Mich., extrusions plant, which was expanded about two years ago, compete with any in the world, but the company also has invested in many of its other facilities as well. In fact, the company expects to complete a Phase 4 expansion at its Trentwood, Wash., rolling mill by the end of this year and could expand capacity there even further should demand from the aerospace sector continue to strengthen as anticipated.

Kaiser chairman, president and chief executive officer Jack Hockema said during the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call that each of the Phase 5, 6 and 7 expansions at Trentwood would take 18 to 24 months to complete and would increase the facility’s heat-treat plate capacity by 5 to 10 percent.

Alcoa Inc., Pittsburgh, has increased production capacity in some key areas of aerospace alloy supply, including aluminum-lithium at its Kitts Green facility in England and at its Upper Burrell, Pa., technology center. It also has broken ground on a greenfield aluminum lithium facility adjacent to its Lafayette, Ind., plant; once it comes online at the end of 2014, the facility will be able to cast round and rectangular ingot for rolled, extruded and forged aerospace applications.

Both Alcoa and Novelis Inc., Atlanta, have announced major investments to increase their ability to service the automotive industry in light of anticipated growth in aluminum demand in that sector not just due to rising build rates but also aluminum’s increasing use in vehicle light-weighting.

Alcoa is investing $300 million at its Davenport, Iowa, rolled products plant to install new technology and equipment aimed at the company’s new 951 bonding technology, which the producer is looking to license to automakers.

Novelis is investing $200 million to expand its rolling operations in Oswego, N.Y. The company said the expansion will result in a 200,000-tonne increase in production capacity there, which is five times the company’s current North American capacity for aluminum sheet for the automotive industry.


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