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Alcoa restarts Australian aluminum smelter at 50% capacity

Alcoa Corp. has restarted 50% capacity at its Portland aluminum smelter in Victoria, Australia, about six months after a statewide power outage, Reuters reported June 9, citing plant manager Peter Chellis.

The smelter has been running at one-third of its 300,000 tonnes-per-year capacity since a major storm hit December 2016, causing the molten aluminum to solidify in the potlines.

The plant's restart was made possible in part due to a A$240 million government-sponsored rescue package. The package is conditional upon the smelter remaining open at least until 2021 with an output of at least 90% of the preblackout levels.

Earlier this year, the smelter signed a four-year power supply deal with AGL Energy for 510 megawatts, or about 10% of the state's electricity load.

Alcoa spokeswoman Jodie Read told the newswire that the company expects to have production restored to preoutage levels by early to mid-August.

The plant is jointly owned by Alcoa, Alumina Ltd., CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd. and a unit of Japan's Marubeni Corp.