Century Aluminum Announces Expansion at Sebree Smelter

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U.S. aluminum maker Century Aluminum announced last week it plans to expand production at its smelter in Sebree, Kentucky.

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The Sebree smelter — one of two Century Aluminum smelters in Kentucky, the other in Hawesville — has an annual production capacity of 220,000 tons.

Last week, the company announced its expansion plans would be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2019. According to the company announcement, the expansion includes the addition of 90,000 metric tons of billet production and 20,000 metric tons of additional secondary capacity.

As a result, the Sebree smelter is expected to produce 230,000 metric tons of aluminum in 2019, which includes 175,000 metric tons of billet.

In a prepared statement, President and CEO Michael Bless touted the “positive effects” of the Trump administration’s Section 232 tariffs.

“These new expansion programs demonstrate our confidence in the future of the U.S. aluminum industry and the continued positive effects of the Trump administration’s Section 232 program,” Bless said. “With the 150,000 MT restart of Century’s Hawesville smelter nearing completion, we are now able to continue to reinvest in our plants to increase value-added production and enter the expanding secondary market.

“These programs, along with the previously announced technology improvement program at Hawesville, should ensure the continued competitiveness of these plants well into the future.”

The Sebree smelter employees 515 people. Bless added as a result of the expansion, the Sebree smelter will see an addition of “nearly 50 new employees.”

In October, Century Aluminum reported third-quarter financial results, posting a net loss of $20.3 million, in part attributable to developments at Sebree.

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“Third quarter results were negatively impacted by $9.2 million related to lower of cost or net realizable value (“NRV”) inventory adjustments, $16.9 million related to the equipment failure at Sebree, and $1.7 million related to the Sebree labor agreement signing bonus,” stated in its third-quarter earnings release.

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