It is idling the smelters while it appeals against an EC ruling on energy tariffs. The EC say that Italy’s extension of an existing electricity tariff after 2005 does not comply with EU state aid rules and that a portion of the benefit received by Alcoa should be refunded. Alcoa disagrees with the decision and is appealing.

The tariff was in place for more than 10 years in Italy and approved by the EC in 1995, the year that Alcoa bought the sites.

It was designed to provide competitive power to energy-intensive industries in Italy, in line with similar energy costs in other EU countries. The news led to the threat of strikes by workers in response to the closure.

Alcoa said without the tariff, the two smelters, which employ approximately 1000 plus an additional 1000 indirect jobs and have a combined capacity of 194kt/y of aluminum, are not viable at current Italian power rates.

Alcoa’s rolling mill in Fusina, which is next to the smelter, is not impacted by the action.