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£330 million smelter sale secures jobs
The GFG Alliance has announced that two of its member companies, SIMEC and Liberty House, have reached an agreement with Rio Tinto Aluminium to buy the iconic hydro-power and aluminium smelting plant at Lochaber near Fort William.
GFG’s £330 million acquisition of the high-profile Scottish Highlands installation will secure the jobs of more than 150 workers on site and hundreds more in the local and regional supply chain.
The transaction, which is expected to be completed in the next four weeks, will include: the hydro plants at Lochaber and neighbouring Kinlochleven, the Lochaber aluminium smelter and over one hundred thousand-acre estate which hosts the water catchment area, including the foothills of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.
GFG’s energy business, SIMEC, will own and operate the hydro plants as part of its growing portfolio of renewable power assets in the UK, and the Liberty House Group will own and develop the aluminium business by integrating the smelters with the group’s downstream engineering and manufacturing activity in Scotland and beyond.
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group and of the GFG Alliance strategic board, said: “This transaction fits very well with our vision to develop a sustainable and competitive metals industry in the UK as a key part of our global industrial business. This is a natural next step for us in our Scottish investment programme and is a springboard for wider manufacturing growth, creating many more jobs in Scotland. We are immensely grateful for the continuing support of the Scottish Government and for their far-sighted approach to industry.”
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, said: “I am delighted at this news from Rio Tinto today. The sale of both the smelter and hydro power station increases the chance of the site having a viable, long-term future. This is great news for the whole local community and especially for the workers at the smelter. Subject to all necessary agreed processes, the deal implemented will safeguard 150 jobs and has the potential to create hundreds more. I want to thank Rio Tinto for their positive engagement with Ministers and officials throughout the process and I will be sorry to see the company move out of Scotland after such a long association.
“With GFG Alliance, incorporating SIMEC and the Liberty House Group, as the successful bidder, I look forward to an exciting new chapter in the history of the Lochaber complex, with the UK’s last remaining aluminium smelter at Fort William continuing as a key component of Scotland’s industrial capability and a major source of employment in the Highlands and Islands. We have built up excellent working relations with Liberty House in our successful dealings in Dalzell
The latest positive news regarding on Lochaber comes less than six weeks after Liberty reopened the steel plate mill at Dalzell near Glasgow, which had been mothballed by previous owners.
Lochaber plant facts & figures
• Plant opened in 1929
• One of the key employers in Fort William
• Facility produces its own power from two hydroelectric generating stations
• These generating stations generate approximately 85 Megawatts of electricity and sell excess to the National Grid
• Has a capacity of up to 47,000 tonnes of aluminium per year.