Investment in the US aluminum industry has been back on the rise with the surging economy in 2021, and domestic producers have announced over $800 million in expenditures for greenfield and expansion projects in just the last six months, Aluminum Association CEO Charles Johnson said Jan. 14.
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"The US aluminum industry continues to place big bets on the future of aluminum production, fabrication and recycling in the US," Johnson said in a newsletter. He added investments have picked up since a "a relatively dormant period during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020."
As examples, Johnson referenced project announcements from Novelis, Commonwealth Rolled Products and Norsk Hydro that represent significant new downstream aluminum capacity set to come on line in the US in the coming years to meet demand in key sectors.
"Aluminum is the fastest growing material used by automakers and is expected to grow to 514 lb per vehicle by 2026, up more than 25% in just 10 years," Johnson said. "Aluminum demand is also increasing in the packaging and building markets. Robust trade enforcement efforts by the government and industry have also driven investment in recent years."
Novelis said Jan. 11 it plans to construct a $365 million aluminum recycling plant in Kentucky that will be commissioned in 2024 and produce 240,000 mt/year of sheet ingot for North American automotive industry customers.
The plans for the Kentucky facility follow two separate announcements by Novelis in 2021 that outlined a $7 million investment in its Terre Haute, Indiana, plant to increase aluminum foil production for household applications and a $130 million investment to enhance operations at its Oswego, New York, facility.
Hydro said in November 2021 it would spend $140 million to build an aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis, Michigan, and Commonwealth said in December 2021 it would invest $167 million to expand and improve its Lewisport, Kentucky, rolling mill.
Johnson said the flurry of capital expenditures follow a larger trend of growth in the US aluminum industry over the last 10 years, with "more than $4 billion in US manufacturing to support growing demand for the metal."