Century Aluminum restarts Kentucky smelter | Global Trade Magazine
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  September 9th, 2018 | Written by

Century Aluminum restarts Kentucky smelter

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in attendance at ceremony

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  • A majority of Hawesville’s production lines are configured to produce military-grade aluminum, making the smelter.
  • Century’s Hawesville smelter is the largest producer of military-grade aluminum in North America.
  • Century’s Hawesville smelter was forced to curtail operations in late 2015 due to global aluminum overcapacity.

Century Aluminum, the largest primary aluminum producer in the United States, announced the ceremonial restart of its smelter in Hawesville, Kentucky, that will return the facility to full capacity, create 300 new jobs by early next year, and result in the investment of more than $150 million in the local economy.

The ceremony marked the return to full production of the first of three production lines to be restarted at the smelter, which has already hired more than 125 new employees since the announcement of the Section 232 tariffs in March 2018. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross joined Michael Bless, CEO of Century Aluminum, at the ceremonial opening.

“The Trump administration’s trade policies have provided much needed relief to America’s primary aluminum workers – leveling the playing field and ensuring that the US primary aluminum industry maintains its competitiveness on the world stage,” said Bless. “Today’s restart will allow us to return to 100-percent capacity in the months ahead while upgrading our smelting technology to ensure we remain competitive long into the future. We want to publicly thank President Donald Trump and Secretary Ross for their leadership on this issue.”

“The aluminum sector has weathered the hardships caused by unfair foreign trade practices,” said Wilbur Ross, the US Secretary of Commerce. “For too long, the government ignored repeated warnings of the impact on the US aluminum sector and its ability to support our armed forces. President Trump’s initiatives are addressing the very problems previous leadership failed to confront with the urgency that these threats presented. This administration remains steadfast in our Made-in-the-USA commitment.”

“Century’s products coming out of Hawesville and Sebree are in demand in Kentucky, across the United States, and around the world,” said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. “There is no better place in America to produce high-quality aluminum, and we’re delighted to see the Century facility operating at full capacity and bringing hundreds of jobs back to the local community.”

A major driver of local economic growth, Century Aluminum will invest nearly $150 million in the facility to upgrade smelting technology, train existing employees to use new equipment, and add specialty positions, including welders, mechanics and engineers. For the past three years, the Hawesville smelter has operated at just 40 percent capacity. With today’s restart, the facility will return to full production and add nearly 300 jobs by early next year.

Century’s Hawesville smelter produces aluminum that supplies the defense and aerospace industries, with a majority of Hawesville’s production lines configured to produce military-grade aluminum, making the smelter the largest producer of military-grade aluminum in North America. Hawesville was one of the many smelters forced to curtail operations in late 2015 as global aluminum overcapacity devastated the US primary aluminum industry, threatening American national security and leading to the loss of thousands of American primary aluminum jobs.


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