Nicola Sturgeon hails ‘historic’ Highlands smelter deal

A German guidebook predicts the "charismatic" First Minister will achieve independence Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
A German guidebook predicts the "charismatic" First Minister will achieve independence Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
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Up to 600 jobs could be created in the Highlands after a £120 million deal was signed to safeguard the last remaining aluminium smelter in the UK.

Liberty House has completed the deal with British-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto to buy the smelter in Lochaber and hydro-power plants at Fort William and Kinlochleven.

This is a historic day for the UK’s last remaining aluminium smelter here in Lochaber

Nicola Sturgeon

The company, which signed a deal with SIMEC last month, will protect an existing 170 jobs in Lochaber and wants to expand metal manufacturing and downstream engineering at the site

The deal hopes to bring up to 2,000 jobs to the Highlands directly and indirectly through suppliers and add around £1 billion to the local economy over the next decade.

The new owners, who are both members of the GFG Alliance, also announced a further £120m investment to upgrade equipment and create an aluminium wheel manufacturing facility.

This will generate up to 300 jobs directly and hundreds more in the supply chain.

• READ MORE: 150 jobs saved with £330m Fort William smelter sale

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is a historic day for the UK’s last remaining aluminium smelter here in Lochaber.

“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.

“The Scottish Government is supporting GFG by guaranteeing the power purchases of the aluminium smelter, which reinforces the essential link between the smelter and hydro station at ort William and provides a firm foundation for GFG’s ambitious expansion plans.”

The GFG alliance sees the Lochaber aluminium operation fitting into Liberty’s growing automotive industry focus.

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of Liberty House Group and of the GFG Alliance strategic board, said: “We hope this day will come to be recognised as the start of a bright new future for Highland industry.

“It puts Lochaber right at the heart of our vision for sustainable and integrated local production that can revitalise British manufacturing.

“We look forward to working with the highly skilled management team and workforce who join our family today.”