Alcoa’s board of directors has approved investments in Brazil that will total $1.6 billion in the company's world-class Brazilian upstream operations, including a 2.1 million metric ton per year (mtpy) expansion of the Alumar consortium alumina refinery in Sao Luis, state of Maranhao; the creation of a bauxite mine in Juruti, in the state of Para, which will initially produce 2.6 million mtpy; and the modernization of the Pocos de Caldas aluminum smelter, in the state of Minas Gerais.
"Our Brazilian operations are among the lowest cost facilities in our system as well as in the world," said Alain Belda, Alcoa chairman and CEO. "These investments, coupled with the ongoing expansion of captive energy production in Brazil, will further strengthen Alcoa's position on the global cost curve and allow us to meet growing global demand needs."
The Alumar alumina refinery will expand from approximately 1.4 million mtpy to approximately 3.5 million mtpy. Through its Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) venture with Alumina Ltd., in which Alcoa holds 60%, Alcoa will have a 54% interest in the expansion and its total share of output will more than double to 1,890,000 mtpy. The Alumar refinery expansion is expected to begin in November 2005 and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008.
Juruti possesses one of the world's largest high-quality bauxite deposits, estimated at 695 million metric tons, with favorable logistics to the Alumar refinery. The Juruti mine will initially supply AWAC's needs at the Alumar expansion, with the ability for further expansions at low incremental investment. The Juruti mine, over the last two years, conducted numerous community consultations, including three public hearings. A full installation permit was issued by the Para State government in August 2005.
Alcoa's Pocos de Caldas plant is an integrated mining, refining, and smelting operation. The smelting operations produce 93,000, mtpy of aluminum. The modernization - which will begin immediately - will provide for world-class environmental controls, lower emissions, and costs, as well as improved operational efficiency, enabling sustainable profitable growth.
Alcoa is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Brazil, where the construction of its first plant, in Pocos de Caldas, began in 1965 and started operations in 1970. Today the company has seven operating locations in the country, which generate approximately 6,000 jobs across its upstream, extrusions, sheet and foil, wiring harnesses, and plastic closures facilities. Beyond local production, Brazil also constitutes a growing market for imported Alcoa products, such as forged wheels, heat-treated sheet and plate for aerospace applications, and fasteners. Alcoa also maintains an important and growing position in hydroelectric generation capacity in Brazil.