Future of Mt. Holly smelter depends on new power contract

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The future of the Mt. Holly aluminium smelter is at risk if Century Aluminum is unable to secure a new, competitively priced power contract.

If a competitively priced power arrangement cannot be secured, Century Aluminum of South Carolina will curtail 100 % of Mt. Holly smelter operations by year-end, when its current power contract with the South Carolina Public Service Authority (also known as Santee Cooper) expires. Santee Cooper’s rates are the highest offered to any US smelter and nearly twice as high as Century would be able to obtain on the open market.

“Mt. Holly is the newest, most efficient and, except for its power costs, the lowest cost aluminium smelter in the United States, with a dedicated and highly skilled workforce and a reputation for quality production as assessed by a world class customer base,” says Century Aluminum boss Michael Bless. “The closure of Mt. Holly would be a distressing and totally unnecessary tragedy for our 295 employees, their families and the broader community in South Carolina. With competitively priced power, Mt. Holly would return to full capacity, employing 600 people, supporting over 2,000 total jobs and creating USD1bn in economic activity.”

Mt. Holly smelter needs power contract with market-based energy price

He continued: “The loss of one of the last six primary aluminium smelters in the US would irreparably harm our country’s ability to produce this critical material. The Administration has sought to address the worst effects of unfair foreign competition and illegal subsidies that foreign governments provide to their companies; many of these subsidies are in the form of below-market power contracts. With access to competitive (not subsidized) market-based power, smelters in this country can and do compete vigorously on the world stage and expand their footprints; our plants in Kentucky are prime examples of this truism. Tragically, the situation in South Carolina represents the inverse, as Mt. Holly is effectively being required to pay a significantly above-market power price in the state. We are willing to pursue any route that leads to a market-based power price for Mt. Holly.”

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