Temp job callbacks reach 40 at Alcoa

Potroom maintenance project should be completed this year

The number of Alcoans called back for temporar y potroom maintenance at Rockdale Operations' shut-down smelter has grown to 40.

Jim Hodson, Alcoa spokesman, said about 30 additional laid-off Alcoans have been called back in addition to the 10 who returned when the project was announced in July.

"This is temporary," Hodson said. "The project should be completed this year."

He said the recalled Alcoans will go back on layoff status once the task is complete.

About 80 persons are still employed permanently at Rockdale Opertations.

"This is a big job," Hodson said. "We're retrieving the metal left in the pots when they were shut down last year. To do that you have to take the pots completely apart and put them back together.

"And this task is for all six lines, a total of 896 pots," he said.

No immediate plans

Hodson again cautioned the community should not read anything into the current project other than routine maintenance.

"It certainly doesn't indicate a re-start is on the way," he said.

However, Alcoa has always maintained it would keep the pots at Rockdale Operations ready in case market conditions improve and the company decided it could profit by re-starting the local smelter.

That's tied closely to the price of metal and there has been some improvement in the aluminum market in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, aluminum was priced just over $2,300 per metric ton on the London Metal Exchange, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That's up substantially from the $1,300 seven-year low in February.

However, when A lcoa shut down the first three Rockdale Operations potlines in spring, 2008, the price was $3,200 per metric ton.

Industr y analysts are predicting the current rally will be curtailed as some producers, particularly in China, restart idled capacity.

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