The entrance to the
Valco aluminium
smelter in Ghana
Accra, Ghana — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 March 2011 – Ghana’s Valco aluminium smelter “’ already operating one pot-line since January after a prolonged shutdown “’ is to add a second pot-line in three to four months’ time.

The 200,000tpa smelter with six pot-lines had been shut since March 2007, largely due to weak metal prices and power shortages caused by low water levels in the vast Volta hydropower dam.

Energy Ministry spokesman Edward Bawa said the smelter had resumed production mainly to feed local aluminium requirements.

“It’s going on well and there are plans to add a second pot-line by mid-year,” Bawa told Reuters, without giving a figure for current output.

Bawa said Ghana’s energy supply was improving, and that a post start-up evaluation was ongoing to determine how best to optimise the smelter to drive government’s plans for an integrated aluminium industry. “The power situation is improving and we believe when positioned well, Valco can be a key economic driver,” he revealed.

The government of Ghana fully owns Valco after buying Kaiser Aluminium’s 90% stake in 2004 for US$18 million, and then acquiring the outstanding 10%from U.S. aluminium maker Alcoa four years later.

The West African nation plans to establish an integrated industry including a 2Mtpa alumina refinery.

The government estimates that as world metal prices recover, at full capacity Valco could add about US$300 million per annum in revenues into the economy.