Alcoa to invest in Russia aluminum plant, eyes hydro

U.S.-based Alcoa, the world’s top aluminum producer, will invest US$200 million by 2008 upgrading its aluminum plant in the Russian city of Samara and might take part in a hydropower project, a company executive said October 31.

William O’Rourke, Alcoa’s country manager for Russia, said talks with authorities were “going well” on the possibility of building a hydroelectric station in the country’s far east that could supply a proposed smelter.

“If we can get very, very favorable energy costs, that would be the primary decision for going forward with that kind of investment,” O’Rourke said in an interview on the fringes of a business forum in Moscow.

O’Rourke said Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, which acquired the Samara and Belaya Kalitva processing plants from RUSAL in 2004, would install a new furnace and production line at Samara to produce the alloy used in aluminum can lids. At Belaya Kalitva, aerospace plate production is to begin in December.

O’Rourke said Alcoa was considering investing in a hydroelectric dam, and possibly construction of a new facility, in the far southeast of Russia. (HNN 8/22/06) Asked how talks were progressing, O’Rourke said, “It’s going well.”

Khabarovskenergo, the power utility in the far eastern Russian region of Khabarovsk, said in September Alcoa was looking to build an aluminum smelter with capacity of 340,000 tons a year. At that time, the utility said preferred power options would be a coal plant or an extension of the Nizhny Nimanskaya hydroelectric project.

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