The investment represents the final phase of a EUR150 million investment programme started in 2003 with the construction of the widest continuous annealing line for the automotive sector in Europe.

The new plant, which was officially opened on 14 March by Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters and Aleris chairman, Steve Demetriou, will enable the company to meet increasing worldwide demand for aluminium components from the automotive sector.

Flemish Prime Minister, Kris Peeters said, "This investment proves that the Aleris management has every confidence in the future of the car industry in Europe. The Flemish government shares this conviction. With our New Industrial Policy, we offer incentives to anyone who wishes to innovate.”

According to Mr Demetriou, the new plant 'underlines' Aleris' confidence in the development of new products and enables further growth. He said that increasing numbers of automotive construction companies are now using aluminium to comply with new fuel-efficiency measures.

"This state of the art wide cold mill allows us to genuinely help our customers to meet the increasing worldwide demand," he said.

Andy Ishmael, managing director of Aleris in Duffel added that the new plant 'reconfirms Duffel's position as a centre of excellence in the automotive industry.

It took Aleris 18 months to build the new facility using over 900 skilled workers.

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, Aleris operates over 40 production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.