Gramercy alumina refinery in US to restart this week after surviving Hurricane Ida

Bauxite refining and alumina production will resume at New Day Aluminum's facility in Gramercy, Louisiana, in the United States, after operations were halted due to Hurricane Ida, major shareholder Concord Resources said on Thursday September 2.

The Gramercy facility is the only remaining alumina refinery in the US.

“Alumina production at Gramercy went into a planned curtailment on Sunday morning as part of preparations to safely manage our site through the storm,” Mark Hansen, chief executive officer at commodity merchant Concord Resources, said on Thursday.

After extensive safety checks, Hansen said there was no serious damage to the alumina refinery or its infrastructure.

“We will resume bauxite refining operations and alumina production this week, thanks to the hard work of the refinery management and staff,” he said.

“The rate of production will depend on a number of factors, including the restoration of open navigation on the Lower Mississippi River and the full operational recovery of some of our key suppliers and service providers in the area,” he added.

The company expects to produce at around 80% capacity from this week, before safely resuming full alumina production at a later date.

“Our team had no workforce injuries during this time. While we were fortunate that the families of our employees were also unharmed by the hurricane, unfortunately, numerous employees have suffered damage to their homes and property,” Hansen said. “We are working diligently to understand the impact on the surrounding communities [and will] assist where we can.”

In July, Concord Resources significantly increased its stake in New Day Aluminum after a deal with Dada Holdings, which retained a minority ownership interest. 

Concord initially invested in New Day’s operations in 2018, taking a minority interest in the Gramercy alumina refinery along with a minority stake in the St Ann bauxite operation in Jamaica.  

The Gramercy refinery produced about 590,000 tonnes of alumina in the second half of 2020, equating to an annualized total of around 1.18 million tonnes, the company said in January 2021.

Alumina prices have been rising over the past few weeks and Fastmarkets’ daily benchmark alumina index was calculated at $320 per tonne on Wednesday September 1, up from $305.36 per tonne a week earlier. 

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