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Century aims to keep Kentucky smelter going

Keywords: Tags  Century Aluminum, Hawesville smelter, Kentucky smelter, Rio Tinto Alcan, Big Rivers Electric, power, aluminum smelter, aluminum Michael Cowden

CHICAGO — Century Aluminum Co. will still push to keep its smelter in Hawesville, Ky., up and running, a company spokesman told AMM April 1.

"Century is committed to maintaining operations at the Hawesville smelter and sustaining family wage manufacturing jobs for the 700 men and women employed at the facility," the spokesman for the Monterey, Calif.-based producer said via e-mail. "Towards this end, Century continues to actively pursue access to competitively priced energy for the Hawesville smelter."

Power provider Big Rivers Electric Corp., Henderson, Ky., told AMM last week that it had resumed negotiations with Century and Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan about the aluminum producers’ smelters in the state potentially tapping the open market to meet their power needs (, March 29).

The Century spokesman declined to confirm whether the company was in talks with Big Rivers or, if discussions were occurring, what their status might be.

Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter in Sebree, Ky., like Century’s in Hawesville, is in the western half of the state and is served by Big Rivers.

Century gave Big Rivers a 12-month power termination notice for the Hawesville smelter in August (, Aug. 20), while Rio Tinto Alcan gave its 12 months’ notice Jan. 31 (, Feb. 4). The two smelters together account for about 70 percent of Big Rivers’ power generation.

Talks between Big Rivers and the aluminum producers resumed after proposed legislation, backed by Century and introduced in both the Kentucky House and Senate, died in the legislature after lawmakers went home March 26 without voting on the measure. The proposal was aimed at allowing the smelters to access electricity on what Century considered more favorable terms than those offered by Big Rivers. Big Rivers said it considered the potential legislation a hindrance to talks.

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