Norsk Hydro Opens Plant in Kentucky
Louisville, KY - Hydro Aluminum Metal Products - North America, a division of Norsk Hydro Norway's largest public company, and the largest global supplier of billet, announced that the company has officially opened the first remelt plant of its kind in the United States, in Henderson, Kentucky.
With electricity demand and cost accelerating across the country and aluminum smelters confronting the impact of slowdowns and closures, the opening of a new remelter in Henderson, Kentucky offers a viable solution. According to the United States Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham "America faces a major energy supply crisis over the next two decades."
As an "energy bank" aluminum can be recycled infinitely. Nevertheless, up until now, all remelters in the United States have not been able to recycle aluminum scrap into primary quality aluminum billet. With the opening of the new remelt plant in Henderson, Hydro has provided a solution for sustaining primary aluminum supplies in an energy efficient way.
Based on a long term commitment to R&D in metallurgy and its successful operations of remelt plants in Europe, Hydro's remelting plant in Henderson, Kentucky is the first in the United States to use Hydro technology to recycle aluminum scrap into primary quality billet. State-of-the-art processing gives the plant its 90,000 metric ton annual capacity, while using less than 5% of the energy consumed in smelter primary aluminum production. Hydro invested $33 million in constructing the Henderson plant.
"The importance of maintaining energy costs is not only good for Hydro, but for our customers. Maintaining adequate supplies of primary quality aluminum billet is a priority and this remelter fills a gap," commented Jim Walters, President, Hydro Aluminum Metal Products, NA. "We intend to expand our remelter capacity in the U.S. and are considering investments in Southwest United States."
"Even with the power shortages striking the Northwest of the United States causing reduced production in many aluminum companies, Hydro is able to honor its commitments to customers and continue to expand globally because of this remelt technology," said Lars Narvestad, Vice President of Remelting Worldwide and Senior Vice President of Hydro Aluminum Metal Products, NA. "This technology has been proven by Hydro's remelt plants in Europe, currently producing over 250,000 tons of primary quality, annually."
Scrap is procured, through tolling agreements with customers, from purchases with customers and from buying scrap on the open market. This scrap is then remelted and then converted to billet for customer use. This is a win win situation for all involved.
The plant will operate "lean," with just seven production workers on each of the four rotating shifts. Hydro has invested in research on how to arrange shift rotations so as to minimize the strain on workers-for example, employees will be off every other weekend. The plant also plans to shut down for four or five holidays each year if possible.
"This plant is already the preferred place to work, attracting many applicants. We offer good shifts, wages, benefits and opportunities," says Todd Johnson, Managing Director, Hydro Aluminum Metal Products, Henderson.
Since 1986, Norsk Hydro has been supplying aluminum to customers in the United States. In Louisville, Kentucky, Hydro Aluminum Metal Products - North America handles sales from the tolling agreement with Goldendale Aluminum Company, in the State of Washington. The Louisville office also operate Hydro's extensive trading activities in the United States, another source of supply. The Henderson recycling plant, which broke ground in August of 1999 and began construction in November 1999, marks the first equity investment HAMP has made in an aluminum production facility in North America.
"Henderson is a great location because it is in the heart of the U.S. aluminum market. However, most importantly, the Henderson plant provides the platform to facilitate future expansion into North America," says Truls Gautesen, divisional President of Hydro Aluminum Metal Products. "We have already substantially increased our remelt presence in the mid-western United States. Through the acquisition of Wells Aluminum, Hydro has taken over a remelt facility in Monett, Missouri, which brings Hydro's remelting capacity to more than 175,000 tons in the mid-west alone.
" Hydro Aluminum Metal Products is the leading supplier of billet worldwide and a leading supplier of aluminum cast house products in Europe. Its global aluminum activities extend to the entire material chain of aluminum, including the mining and refining of bauxite into alumina, the production of primary aluminum, semi-fabrication and fabrication of aluminum products and remelting and recycling.