Switzerland’s Sider Alloys will relaunch the Italian Portovesme aluminium plant in the coming year, according to a S&P Global Platts source. The Swiss company acquired the Portovesme smelter – Italy’s last remaining aluminium production plant – from Alcoa in February 2018 when it fell victim to Alcoa’s cost-cutting campaign. The new owner plans for the plant cells to be fully operational by January 2021.
While the company has not yet issued an official statement, Sider Alloys reportedly unveiled its business plan this Thursday at a meeting with the Italian industry ministry. The restart of the Portovesme plant is still allegedly dependent on an agreement on energy costs – the main issue that discouraged other potential buyers when Alcoa put the plant on sale back in 2011.
In preparation to restart the aluminium plant, Sider Alloys chose the Chinese firm Chinalco to start vamping operation at the smelter, report Italian media.
“The signing of the contract with the Chinese company that is due to carry out the revamping is subject to a solution being found in terms of electricity costs, as these go hand in hand,” said the source quoted in S&P Global Platts.
Alcoa sold the Portovesme smelter to the Italian state-owned investment enterprise Invitalia to give more guarantees to the next investor in its attempt to restart the smelter. Commodities conglomerates Glencore and Klensch were among companies interested in the Italian plant. The firms stopped their bids when they could not obtain government guarantees for long-term energy tariffs. The government said the deal would breach EU laws.
The Alcoa Portovesme smelter was rebaptised Sider Alloys after the purchase. As Italy’s only aluminium production plant, the Sardinia-located smelter provides much-needed jobs for the area. According to government figures, the plant filled 80 per cent of the Italy’s demand for aluminium, including providing the metal for the country’s automotive, aerospace, construction, and packaging sectors.
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