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BHP Billiton Hillside aluminium smelter produces first metal

Posted: 13 October 2003

BHP Billiton announced first aluminium was cast at the expansion project at the wholly owned Hillside aluminium smelter at Richards Bay on Friday 3 October 2003.

First metal production has been achieved 18 months after project commencement in April 2003. This expansion, by 132 000 tons per annum, will raise Hillside’s production to 670 000 tons per annum, making it the largest smelter in the southern hemisphere and the western world.

Completion cost is expected to be below the budget of US$449 million.

Some 1 200 people received training in various construction skills during the project.

About US$80 million has been spent directly in the Kwa-Zulu Natal region, with a further spend of US$7 million per annum expected from the expansion’s continuing operations.

To date 22 contracts valued in total at US$20 million have been awarded to BEE procurement and service providers.

The project has achieved a remarkable safety performance. On six occasions it reached one million man-hours without any lost time injuries and for the third time has just completed one million man- hours without a classified injury.

Mike Salamon, Executive Director and President of Aluminium at BHP Billiton, said: “We are justifiably proud of the Hillside project team for achieving a world record of producing first metal in just 18 months from project commencement. We wish them a safe and successful ramp up to full production, which is expected will be reached early in the first quarter of 2004. This expansion is also remarkable, for it will provide Hillside smelter with the facilities to produce rim alloy and t-bar, in addition to its current primary aluminium ingots”.

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Posted by Richard Price, Editor

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