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Apr 4, 2011

VALCO Revamps Aluminium Industry


After three months of reactivation, the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) is on course towards reviving the aluminium industry in the short-term and the national goal of developing an integrated aluminium project in the long–term.

 

Operating at 20 per cent capacity since its reactivation on January 3, 2011, VALCO is currently producing 3,000 metric tonnes of foundry ingots per month for local and international markets

 Half of that production is supplied to aluworks, a local manufacturer of aluminium products, and western rod and Wire Company limited, another local company that uses foundry ingots and molten aluminium for the production of rods for high – tension cables.

 Under an off-taker agreement signed between valco and aluworks and western rod and wire, the  two companies are to purchase 1,000 metric tonnes and 500 metric tonnes respectively, 1,500 metric exported to Europe.

 The reactivation of VALCO has given a lifeline to the two local companies in respect of the regular supply of foundry ingots, therefore saving them the cost of importing the materials

 According to the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Human Resource/Administration, Legal & Public Affairs) of VALCO, Mr. Dan Acheampong, “everything is moving smoothly”.

 He, however, noted that it would not be sustainable to limit VALCO to only one potline production, given the huge overheads.

 “In fact, it will amount to deliberately, strangulating it to deny Ghanaians the benefit of real and meaningful jobs and livelihoods that an operating VALCO brings”, he added.

 In line with a reactivation road map, the management of VALCO is currently holding technical discussions with the Volta River Authority (VRA) to begin operating a second production potline next June.

 That will increase its monthly production by 20 per cent from 3,000 metric tonnes to more than 6,000 metric tonnes per month (80,000 metric tonnes annually).

 Although that production level is far less than the company’s installed capacity of 200,000 metric tonnes per annum when all the five potlines are activated, it is nevertheless envisaged that the activation of a second potline will create 55, 000 jobs from upstream to downstream.

 With respect to VALCO alone, the activation of a second production potline will lead to an increase in staff strength from 480 to 700, apart from the multiplier employment effect it will have on an estimated 445 business downstream.

 VALCO had been shut down for about two years due to some challenges but a study conducted by an independent consult on the authority of Cabinet proved the economic viability of the company and that it could even become a major growth pole for the country’s development aspirations.

 According to the findings of the study, operating at a 40 per cent capacity will lead to an increase in employment by Aluworks and other companies by 8,000 and that will create an additional 32,000 jobs with respect to other companies downstream.

 One other benefit is that with the beginning of oil production in Ghana, VALCO will no longer have to import residue of crude oil for its operations, a development which will reduce its cost of production and ensure minimum waste in the petrol-chemical industry.

 It had been the ambition of Ghana’s founder and first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to establish VALCO as an integrated aluminium project, comprising access to bauxite, a smelter and refinery.

 However, for more than four decades, a refinery had been out of the production equation of VALCO, making the country operate a fragmented aluminium project, having to export its bauxite and import alumina which is derived from bauxite for the production of foundry ingots and molten aluminium.

 Establishing an integrated aluminium projects will not only deal with that production fragmentation but also cut down VALCO’s production cost almost fourfold in respect of the importation of alumina.

 Source: The Daily Graphic