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GFG Alliance to invest £94m at Scottish aluminium plant
Alvance Aluminium, a member of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, has announced a £94m investment package to secure Fort William’s future as a GREENALUMINIUM hub. GREENALUMINIUM adopts the strategy set by GFG’s GREENSTEEL initiative – a plan to be carbon net zero by 2030 and use renewable energy along with recycled material, rather than producing material from scratch.
Alvance will invest in a new recycling and casting facility that will take aluminium production at its Fort William plant from just over 40,000 tonnes per annum (ktpa) to 80ktpa. The new facility will produce 80ktpa of long, round shapes (“billets”) for the domestic construction sector which currently relies heavily on imports. To support the developments, Alvance is also proposing significant upgrades to the nearby port of Corpach to improve efficiency of material flow.
With current smelting processes already powered by GFG Alliance’s zero emission hydro-electric power, the new addition of aluminium recycling and expansion into downstream billets will allow Alvance to manufacture some of the most sustainably produced billets in the world, giving it a competitive advantage as the demand for green aluminium grows.
Proposals will be submitted to Highlands Council for approval and formally replace the previously announced plan for an alloy wheels factory due to a significant decline in the UK automotive sector.
Once approved, the new integrated business plan and associated developments will secure the long-term future of the Fort William aluminium smelter, safeguarding 200 local jobs and creating 70 new high quality roles. Subject to approvals and any further impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Alvance aims to commence the new development works in 2021 and target full operation by 2024.
Sanjeev Gupta, GFG Alliance executive chairman, said: “The transformation plan we’re announcing today underlines our commitment to investing in Scotland and our belief in the bright future of GREENALUMINIUM. Recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium and is a key part of GFG’s CN30 mission to be carbon neutral by 2030. By utilising domestic scrap aluminium that is currently exported, we will nearly double production here at Fort William. These investments will make us more competitive and will deliver a higher value product in the form of billet for construction to domestic and export markets. The new facilities, alongside the Lochaber hydro plant, will create market-leading GREENALUMINIUM products that deliver for the environment as well as the economy.”
Brian King, Chairman of Alvance British Aluminium, added: “I’m very pleased to be putting these plans forward which will provide a long-term future for our Fort William operations. Since putting forward our original plans for a wheels factory, the automotive industry has gone through significant decline in the UK. Fortunately, the construction industry is buoyant and is using ever more aluminium billet giving us the chance to produce a quality product making use of primary metal from the smelter and recycled scrap. There will be opportunities for local firms to be involved in the construction of the new facilities and new job opportunities for local people.”
Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with Alvance Aluminium to secure the long-term future of the Fort William smelter, grow output and employment through investment in downstream manufacturing capability. We will work with Alvance to consider the new business plan and to secure the earliest possible investment in the Fort William complex.”
In a new venture for the group, GFG Alliance is also tabling plans for a new water canning facility, located next to the Fort William plant, to package Scottish Highlands water into recyclable aluminium cans to provide an alternative to plastic bottles for sale to the UK and international market. Further news on this development will be announced in due course.