Atomizer ‘shopped’ but no sale

Smelter status remains ‘temporarily curtailed’

Alcoa “shopped around” for a buyer for its Rockdale Operations atomizer this year but decided against selling the facility.

Jim Hodson, spokesman for the company, which closed its smelter at Rockdale Operations in 2008-09, said Alcoa made a “strategic decision” to keep the atomizer, which remains open.

Alcoa has often said its facilities are for sale but in this situation the company apparently went out and tested the market.

Hodson said the activity extended “over a period of several months” but in the end Alcoa decided to retain ownership of the atomizer.

Does that mean Alcoa views the atomizer, which employs about 50 persons, as a valuable commodity?

“I don’t really know all the details of the decision,” Hodson said. “It continues to run and we have contracts.”

‘TEMPORARY’—Alcoa still classifies the smelter shutdown as “ temporar y,” according to Hodson.

“It is being maintained in the event economic conditions would improve and the smelter could be re-started,” he said.

The company has cited the price of aluminum and power cost concerns as the major factors in a possible re-start.

Hodson said aluminum prices have recovered from a low point in the spring of 2009 and are currently around $2,500 per metric ton, still not a level which would make a Rockdale re-start likely.

The power cost factor remains a moot point after a 2010 lawsuit against power-supplier Luminant which Alcoa lost.

Hodson said the court decision was not appealed by Alcoa.

CAPARO—The atomizer, and reclamation work, were discussed at a recent meeting of the Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations (CAPARO).

Tommy Hodges, Rockda le Operations energy manager, said mining from 1952-2005 disturbed 11,140 acres of land which must be reclaimed so the land is “equal to or better than” condition of the land when mining began.

Hodges said ear t hwork to reshape the land was completed in January and planting was fin- ished this spring.

Before Alcoa may call reclamation “complete,” the land must demonstrate “stability, growth and productivity.”

Hodges said that “completed” status is predicted to be attained in 2017.

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