Gupta in new £94m plan for Fort William smelter

Alvance Aluminium, a member of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, has announced a new £94 million investment package “to secure Fort William’s future as a Greenaluminium hub.”

Alvance said its proposals will be submitted to Highland Council for approval and “formally replace the previously announced plan for an alloy wheels factory due to a significant decline in the UK automotive sector.”

Alvance said will invest in a new recycling and casting facility that will take aluminium production at its Fort William plant from just over 40,000 tonne per annum (ktpa) to 80ktpa.

“The new facility will produce 80ktpa of long, round shapes (billets) for the domestic construction sector which currently relies heavily on imports,” said Alvance.

“To support the developments Alvance is also proposing significant upgrades to the nearby port of Corpach to improve efficiency of material flow.

“With current smelting processes already powered by GFG Alliance’s zero emission hydro-electric power, the new addition of aluminium recycling and expansion into downstream billets will allow Alvance to manufacture some of the most sustainably produced billets in the world, giving it a competitive advantage as the demand for green aluminium grows.”

Then new plan would secure the long-term future of the Fort William aluminium smelter, safeguarding 200 local jobs and creating 70 new roles.

GFG Alliance executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “The transformation plan we’re announcing today underlines our commitment to investing in Scotland and our belief in the bright future of Greenaluminium.

“Recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium and is a key part of GFG’s CN30 mission to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“By utilising domestic scrap aluminium that is currently exported, we will nearly double production here at Fort William.  

“These investments will make us more competitive and will deliver a higher value product in the form of billet for construction to domestic and export markets.

“The new facilities, alongside the Lochaber hydro plant, will create market-leading Greenaluminium products that deliver for the environment as well as the economy.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with Alvance Aluminium to secure the long-term future of the Fort William smelter, grow output and employment through investment in downstream manufacturing capability. 

“We will work with Alvance to consider the new business plan and to secure the earliest possible investment in the Fort William complex.”

Brian King, chairman of Alvance British Aluminium said: “I’m very pleased to be putting these plans forward which will provide a long-term future for our Fort William operations.

“Since putting forward our original plans for a wheels factory the automotive industry has gone through significant decline in the UK. 

“Fortunately, the construction industry is buoyant and is using ever more aluminium billet giving us the chance to produce a quality product making use of primary metal from the smelter and recycled scrap. 

“There will be opportunities for local firms to be involved in the construction of the new facilities and new job opportunities for local people.”

GFG Alliance is also tabling plans for a new water canning facility, located next to the Fort William plant, to package Scottish Highlands water into recycleable aluminium cans to provide an alternative to plastic bottles for sale to the UK and international market. 

Further news on this development will be announced in due course.

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.