In 2016 the last aluminium smelter in the UK changed hands with companies under the GFG Alliance banner taking over from Rio Tinto. Lochaber Smelter near Fort William, in the Western Scottish Highlands, was purchased in a £330 million deal. The move saved the 170 jobs on the site and kept the operation running.
At the start of March new plans were revealed for the site that will create up to 600 new automotive jobs. The plan is to manufacture vehicle components on the site. An initial £120 million investment would see the creation of a steel rolling mill and other necessary facilities to make products like alloy wheels.
Currently the aluminium produced at the smelter is taken from the site to be made into parts. With new facilities some of this production would be able to take place in the area, reducing the supply chain and costs whilst simultaneously creating skilled jobs.
Further investment could follow at the site, eventually totalling £450 million. This would be used to create even more facilities as well as housing for workers and associated services. The end result could be more jobs, taking the total created to 1,000.
Money would also be invested in the nearby hydro power and bio-diesel schemes. They both provide electricity for the smelter, making it highly sustainable. The same resources could be used to generate the power needed for creating automotive parts, particularly with the additional investment.
The GFG Alliance companies, Liberty British Steel and Simec Lochaber Power, have submitted a planning application for the new development. If the green light is given work could begin on the site later in the year.
The development would be a big boost for the economy, adding an estimated £1 billion to it. Local residents would benefit too with cutting edge automotive jobs being made available and other positions indirectly associated with the operations.
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