Alcoa Promises Strong Defense of Yadkin River Hydroelectric Dams

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We previously reported about the legal fight between Alcoa, Inc., and the state of North Carolina over over the Yadkin River, the site of four hydroelectric dams that once powered the aluminum producer’s Badin, N.C., smelter.

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In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, the aluminum producer offered a vigorous defense its rights to continue to use the dams, and sell the power they create, after Alcoa idled the smelter in 2002 and permanently ended producing aluminum there 8 years later. North Carolina is refusing to renew a power generation license to Alcoa, one that had been granted in the past.

“It’s a clear threat to our property rights — and the rights of anyone who owns property along a waterway in North Carolina,” Ray Barham, the Alcoa official in charge of the company’s effort to relicense the dams, wrote in a post on Alcoa’s website.

In court papers, the company said North Carolina has never asserted ownership rights over the riverbed. In fact, the state recognized the company’s control of the property when it sought easements from Alcoa before building highway bridges over the river, the company noted in court documents.

“The state’s belated attempt to seize privately owned property would raise disturbing questions of constitutional dimensions even if supported by the facts,” Alcoa said in court papers.

About two dozen government, business, and civic groups support renewal of the license based on the company’s commitment to make environmental, recreational and other improvements along the river.

Governor Pat McCrory (R), however, is undeterred.

“The benefits of the Yadkin River belong to North Carolina’s people,” McCrory said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed. “We should be able to use it for North Carolina water needs and to create North Carolina jobs.”

On Monday, January 26, the day’s biggest mover was the cash price of primary aluminum, which saw a 1.9% decline on the LME to $1,830 per metric ton. On the LME, the aluminum 3-month price fell 1.9% to $1,835 per metric ton. The cash price of primary Indian aluminum remained essentially flat at INR 114.40 ($1.86) per kilogram.

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Chinese aluminum prices were mixed for the day. The Chinese aluminum cash price weakened by 0.4%, settling at CNY 12,690 ($2,023) per metric ton. Chinese aluminum bar prices saw a 0.4% decline to CNY 12,700 ($2,024) per metric ton. Chinese aluminum scrap held its value yesterday at CNY 12,300 ($1,960) per metric ton. The price of Chinese aluminum billet remained essentially flat at CNY 13,200 ($2,104) per metric ton.

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