Novelis recently announced the construction of a $2.5 billion state-of-the-art aluminum rolling and recycling facility in Baldwin County, Alabama. Additionally, a statement in Made in Alabama suggested that the 3,000-acre South Alabama Mega facility will create about 1,000 jobs.
According to Novelis, the site will be the first fully integrated aluminum plant built in the United States in 40 years. It will be located in Bay Minette, northeast of Mobile. In most cases, Alabamans greeted the news with joy. After all, the plant is sure to give the region a major economic boost and could open the door for future investment.
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An aluminum rolling mill for the future
More than half of the facility’s 600,000 tonne annual capacity will be stored. Packaging and automotive will do the rest. This suggests that the operation will primarily serve as a direct-to-end-user business. This is important because it will not displace imports into the commercial product distributor market.
The plant will have a strong focus on the use of renewable energy, recycled water and other green programs. These types of zero waste policies are widely expected of recycling plants. The decision is sure to please environmentalists. It will also reinforce the company’s reputation as a low-carbon, low-impact producer.
Of course, Baldwin County loves the prospect of so many good paying jobs. Indeed, Alabama is one of the poorest states in the United States. In 2018, the median household income was just $49,861. Compare that to the US average of $61,937. The state is sure to benefit of a world-class manufacturing facility with advanced automation. It will also expose a new generation of workers to digital technologies such as AI, AR and robotics.
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Coming to Alabama (in 2025)
Experts suggest that state and local financial incentives influenced the location of the site. After all, Alabama lobbied for the plant and its more than 1,000 jobs. However, proximity to customers is also important to Novelis’ closed-loop supply chain model. This means that waste from the company’s can makers will be reprocessed along with end-of-life cans. Baldwin County’s centralized location and multiple transportation routes likely impacted the decision.
A company statement estimated that Novelis will soon be able to recycle 90 billion cans worldwide. This is a big increase from its current capacity of $74 billion. Don’t hold your breath in terms of metal availability, though. They do not plan to commission the plant until 2025.
The new Novelis plant will likely have a major impact on the US aluminum market. Currently, aluminum prices are at record highs. In March, a single metric ton cost $3,498. And although recycled aluminum is less expensive, it cannot be used in as many applications. Experts predict that the demand for aluminum will increase by 40% by 2030. In such a market, we will need all possible sources.
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