Global aluminum maker Alcoa has evinced interest to invest further in Australia’s Portland smelter operations provided the latter secures an agreement to source affordable power.
According to local media reports, the Victoria-based smelter lost more than $136mn between 2017 and 2019 despite securing $200mn in government aid during the time due to the high power costs associated with operating it. However, during an investor call on Nov 20, Alcoa’s chief financial officer, Bill Oplinger said that the company was optimistic about the smelter striking a deal for lower-priced power, which in turn would enable Alcoa to turn around the fortunes of the distressed plant.
Alcoa has a 33pc stake in the smelter with China’s Citic and Japan’s Marubeni holding 22.5pc each. Australia’s Alumina Ltd holds the balance 22pc stake. The Portland smelter has the capacity to produce 358,000mt of aluminum annually and makes up for around 19pc of Australia’s total aluminum output.