In December 2016 SIMEC and Liberty House, two members of the international energy and metals group GFG Alliance, paid £330m to buy mining giant Rio Tinto’s Fort William aluminium smelter, hydro-power plants and associated land.
Aluminium Smelting and Hydro Electricity Generation
What do we do?
We produce around 48,000 tonnes of aluminium each year, generally cast in 10 tonne ingots
We employ around 160 people, specifically trained for the various operations within the plant.
We operate the plant to the most demanding Environmental, Quality and Health & Safety
standards and hold registrations to ISO 14001:1996, ISO 9001:2000, OHSAS 18001:1999 and EMAS.
These are controlled within a fully Integrated Management System.
We generate more than 85 Megawatts of electricity from Hydro renewable resources at the Lochaber and Kinlochleven power stations and can sell excess to the National Grid
We are one of the key employers in Fort William
We can offer guided tours of our Plant by arrangement.
We care about our Environment and maintain close relationships with SEPA. We are a registered Investors in People plant. Our History and Background
The Railway came to Fort William in 1890 and as in all other places around the world it attracted people.
In 1929 The British Aluminium Company Ltd completed their major hydro construction programme of dams and pipework to carry millions of litres of water to their new aluminium smelters at Fort William and Kinlochleven. Hundreds of men came from all over to work and labour on the project and others became the first employees of the company. Earlier, in 1907, the Kinlochleven plant was commissioned.
The villages of Inverlochy and Kinlochleven were built specifically to provide housing for the workers and their families and Kinlochleven was the first village in Scotland to be provided with electricity as a result of the hydro-generating station.
Today, after much modernisation and the development of specialised equipment, skills and processes, we are part of a global company called Alcan Rio Tinto, which has its headquarters in Canada.
Rainfall for Power
Loch Treig, which you can see from the West Highland Railway Line, north and east of Spean Bridge, is the main source of water. Water is taken from the loch along a 24Km long pipe, which is 4.5m in diameter. Along the way to Fort William additional water is collected from the surrounding hills and introduced to the pipe. The familiar pipes descending from the shoulder of Ben Nevis are the last section of the waterway. This produces a fantastic volume and power of water and gravity drives it into our DC generating turbines. We have a programme in place to convert the older DC generators to modern AC generators.
Alumina is brought to Fort William by train after being processed, from bauxite in Ireland. We use the electricity to operate the 80 electrolytic cells in our two Cellrooms. The molten aluminium is siphoned from the cells at regular intervals, transported to our Cast Shop, then cast into large ingots which, when cooled, are loaded onto lorries or trains and sent for further processing into foil, car parts and lots of other useful aluminium products.
Aluminium production in Fort William has been secured for the foreseeable future. Plans to manufacture car wheels from the basic commodity are very exciting promising more jobs and a brand new product from the Highlands of Scotland to the market place.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “GFG Alliance’s buyout of the complex will protect 170 existing jobs and with ambitious plans to invest in the site, expand operations and add value, we look forward to hundreds of new jobs being created in the coming years.”
Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group and of the GFG Alliance strategic board, said he hoped the completion of the deal “would come to be recognised as the start of a bright new future for Highland industry”.