The reopening of aluminium-smelting operation at the closed smelter of Noranda was the first topic of discussion in the first special session of the Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in May.
The smelter had been southeast Missouri’s largest employer. However, after that, there’s been no communication between smelting-plant officials and the state agency tasked with approving lower utility rates for such closed projects. Leaders in the area are now pinning their job-creation hopes on a new steel mill that could employ up to 200 people.
McGill is concerned about the ripple effect of job loss more than a year ago, when the Noranda aluminium smelter closed down.
“We know that, without these jobs, that economic impact is going to continue to worsen,” he said of the possible steel plant.
Meanwhile, aluminium smelting is turning out to be a dwindling industry in the United States, with only five in operation, dropping from 23 in 1993. The high cost of production, which relies on a lot of electricity, has been touted as one of the major factors causing the shut down around the U.S..
Before declaring bankruptcy in 2016, Noranda officials complained about the threat caused by the sharp decline of aluminium prices and high energy rate in the U.S. made worse by a flood of cheaper and subsidized aluminium from China.
The Missouri smelter is now owned by Magnitude 7 Metals, a subsidiary of Swiss firm ARG International AG. Magnitude spokesman Donnie Brittain has not made any official comment about the future plans in the smelter.
Greitens signed a legislation that allowed the state’s Public Service Commission to negotiate with Ameren Missouri in order to offer lower utility rates to aluminium smelters and steel plants. Ameren Missouri spokesperson Matt Forck indicated that the smelter still has revival hopes. He said in a statement that the company is having “ongoing discussions with Magnitude 7 Metals and other stakeholders” regarding power rates. He added that any “special energy rate for Magnitude 7 Metals or a new steel mill” would have to be approved by the PSC.
Source: China Aluminium Network