Michael Bless, president and CEO of Century Aluminium, said the company was managing through a period of uncertainty and added that the slowing of the Chinese economy has begun to impact European and other developed and developing economies.
“In contrast, our US customer markets remain generally sound, with particular strength in the transportation and construction sectors,” Bless added.
Bless said that the relative strength of the US dollar has pressurised the price of all commodities.
“…industry participants are trying to assess the potential impact of the recent proposal by the London Metals Exchange for changes in the warehousing rules,” Bless said, adding that Century is prepared to operate through ‘this challenging environment’ in the near-term and remains confident that attractive demand and constrained supply outside China will push aluminium prices up over time.
“The past few months have been busy and productive at Century,” Bless said. “We reached a definitive agreement with our power supplier for Hawesville; subject to obtaining the required regulatory approvals, this new contract would commence upon the expiration of the existing agreement on August 20. Under the new arrangement, we would buy power at market terms and pay a small fee to the power company to cover its direct costs.”
Bless said that he believes the terms of the new contract will allow Hawesville to be competitive in the global market.
“In early June we acquired the Sebree KY smelter from Rio Tinto Alcan. Sebree’s power contract is with the same supplier as Hawesville and expires in January 2014,” he said, explaining how Century was confident that the Sebree smelter could have a similar power agreement to Hawesville, assuming all goes well.
Moving on to Iceland, Bless said that development of it’s Grundartangi facility was proceeding as planned and that the company’s anode plant in Vlissingen was on schedule for a Q4 restart, which will reduce costs, improve operational readiness and enable Grundartangi to expand its capacity.