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New lease of life for aluminium plant in Scottish Highlands
December 19, 2016 / 12:40 AM / 10 months ago

New lease of life for aluminium plant in Scottish Highlands

Molten aluminium is poured on the day of the completion of a 330 million pound deal to buy Britain's last remaining Aluminium smelter in Fort William Lochaber Scotland, Britain December 19, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

FORT WILLIAM, Scotland (Reuters) - Liberty House and SIMEC, owners of Britain’s only aluminium smelter, are to invest 120 million pounds ($149.76 million) in a project at the plant in Lochaber, Scotland to make aluminium wheels for the car industry.

Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) (RIO.L) had sold the 47,000 tonne smelter in the foothills of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, and two hydro-electric power stations to the two groups in November.

Commodity and industrials group Liberty has been buying up assets in the metals sector with a growing focus on the car industry to benefit from rising steel prices and a falling pound following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Liberty made an approach last month for Tata Steel’s (TISC.NS) speciality steel business based in Rotherham in northern England.

“Liberty aims to protect the existing 170 jobs in Lochaber and progressively expand metal manufacturing and downstream engineering there,” the companies said on Monday. They said this would eventually bring up to 2,000 direct and supply-chain jobs to the heart of the Scottish Highlands and adding around 1 billion pounds to the local economy over the next decade.

The Scottish government said it would support the project by guaranteeing the power purchases of the aluminium smelter for a 25 year period.

Liberty also bought the Dalzell steel plant in Motherwell and its sister works at Clydebridge in Glasgow from Tata Steel for a symbolic sum in April this year, with the Scottish government underpinning the process.

Editing by Jane Merriman

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