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13.10.2005 Business & Finance

ALCOA To Invest $1bn In Power For VALCO

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ALCOA World Aluminium is to invest about $1 billion in the provision of power for the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) through the West African Gas Pipeline Project.

President of Global Manufacturing, ALCOA Primary Products, Mr Alan Cransberg, announced this when he visited some installations of VALCO in Tema Tuesday.

During the visit,it was noticed that some of the workers were busily carrying out civil works in preparation for actual casting to begin in December this year. Currently, the bulk of VALCO's products are being transferred to Aluworks.

Mr Cransberg said discussions were also under way for ALCOA to establish a bauxite plant at Kyebi and Nyinahin in the Eastern and Ashanti regions respectively, under a VALCO/ALCOA deal.

The investment is part of efforts aimed at reactivating VALCO, in line with the government's vision to revive the dream of Ghana's first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, to establish an integrated aluminium industry, comprising a bauxite mine, a refinery and a smelter, in the country.

In January 2003, the government of Ghana and the Volta River Authority (VRA), on one hand, and representatives of Kaiser Aluminium & Chemical Corporation (Kaiser), which had 90 per cent shares in VALCO, on the other, met in Washington, DC, USA, in the hope of resolving a dispute relating to the expiration of their power contract in April 1997.

The contract entailed the provision of electric power from the VRA to VALCO. However, the mediation broke down at the instance of Kaiser.

When the mediation was later restored, Kaiser agreed to sell its 90 per cent shares in VALCO to the government of Ghana, paving way for the reactivation of the company.

There are bright prospects ahead for the company and the nation as a whole with VALCO's new lease of life.

Mr Cransberg expressed delight at the enthusiasm of the management of VALCO at getting the company in operation, in spite of its handicaps.

He said ALCOA's decision to invest in Ghana could be credited to the country's good infrastructure, skilled workforce, less political risk, the presence of bauxite, among others.

He said the company was also exploring other long-term business opportunities in the energy sector, adding, ”We believe these opportunities will have a positive impact on Ghana's economy.”

Mr Cransberg commended the government for creating investment opportunities in the country, adding that they would yield good results.

The Managing Director of VALCO, Mr Seth Adjei, called for support for VALCO as a solution to the country's industrialisation advancement, adding that “if VALCO survives, a lot of things will change for the better”.

He said by the end of February next year, the production level would hit 120,000 tonnes and that would be increased when the country started benefiting from the West African Gas Pipeline Project.

Mr Adjei said after the company was shut down, only 300 workers, out of about 2,000, were retained and said with its reactivation, the workers had been given orientation to undertake the new task ahead.

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