The new owners of the UK’s last aluminium smelter plan to make vehicle components on the site in a move that could create hundreds of jobs. Companies created by GFG Alliance took over the running of the Lochaber Smelter near Fort William last year.
The new project would involve the creation of a steel rolling mill and facilities for making components such alloy wheels. It could add 600 jobs to the 170 already involved with the yard. The auto-components manufacturing plant forms “the centrepiece” of a planned £120m first phase of longer term investment in the smelter that could eventually run to an estimated £450m.
GFG Alliance companies Liberty British Steel and Simec Lochaber Power said phase one could create a mix of up to 600 new direct and indirect jobs. Longer term, the firms said production at the site could support 1,000 direct and 1,000 indirect jobs and add £1bn to the Scottish economy.
Aluminium currently made at the smelter, which lies in the foothills of Ben Nevis, Is taken elsewhere to be made into various products. The units will make the smelter “the greenest metal producing facility in the UK”, according to the site’s owners. About £10m is being invested in the hydro scheme and bio-diesel units. They are expected to reduce the need to import electricity to the site. The new units form one of the first steps towards the creation of the planned new manufacturing plant.