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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Alcoa will close aluminum smelter and 2 mills in Australia by year end

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Alcoa Inc. said Monday that it will close an aluminum smelter and two mills in Australia by the end of the year.

The company said it has been studying options for a 50-year-old smelter in Geelong, Victoria, for two years and will close it in August. The smelter has about 500 workers.

A rolling mill near the smelter and another mill and recycling centre in Yennora, New South Wales, will close by year end. They employ an additional 480 people.

Faced with stubbornly low prices for aluminum due to global overcapacity, Alcoa has been idling and closing smelters to reduce capacity. When the last moves are completed, Alcoa will have cut its smelting capacity by 17 per cent. The company is increasingly shifting into making aluminum products for aviation, auto and other industries.

The company expects to take restructuring charges against earnings of between $250 million and $270 million, or 22 cents to 25 cents per share, with 60 per cent in the first quarter.

Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld said the smelter and mills "are no longer competitive and are not financially sustainable today or into the future."

The company said it would seek to sell a coal mine and power station that provides about 40 per cent of the electricity for the smelter.

Another smelter in Victoria and bauxite-mining and alumina-refining operations in western Australia will keep running, the company said.

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