Century Aluminum’s Mt Holly smelter will continue operations and expand production after the company signed a new three-year power contract with South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper).
Under the new contract, Santee will deliver at least 290MW of electricity to allow the smelter to increase its production by 50pc. Century plans to achieve this by adding half of one potline to its operations at the plant to reach 75pc of its total capacity at Mt Holly. The capacity addition will also result in hiring 70 more people to the smelter, according to Michael Bless, president and chief executive officer, Century Aluminum.
In October, the South Carolina based aluminum smelter had hinted at the possibility of reducing operations and eventually closing down the facility due to the high electricity costs if it was unable to secure a “competitively-priced power arrangement” with Santee Cooper.
The aluminum maker had also approached the state court to establish its own power source, but it lost that case. On the other hand, Santee, at that time, had denied the request for a more cost-effective contract citing that the new agreement was close to the cost of transmitting electricity to the smelter. However, earlier this week, Santee Cooper had said that it would meet with the aluminum maker to draft a new contract at more agreeable terms under government supervision.
Mt Holly’s total production capacity is pegged at 229,000mt of aluminum billets, ingots, and slabs per year. The smelter employs more than 300 workers, who were given notices of the likely shut down of the plant in October because of the power supply troubles.