150 jobs saved with £330m Fort William smelter sale

An aluminium smelting and hydro power operation in Lochaber has been sold, safeguarding more than 150 jobs.

The deal was described as 'great news' by Fergus Ewing. Picure: Allan Milligan

Mining giant Rio Tinto has sold the scheme near Fort William to SIMEC and Liberty House, two members of international energy and metals group GFG Alliance.

The group said the £330 million sale, supported by the Scottish Government, included hydro plants at Lochaber and Kinlochleven as well as the Lochaber aluminium smelter and more than 100,000 acres of estate spanning the foothills of Ben Nevis.

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Liberty House executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said: “This transaction fits very well with our vision to develop a sustainable and competitive metals industry in the UK as a key part of our global industrial business.

“This is a natural next step for us in our Scottish investment programme and is a springboard for wider manufacturing growth, creating many more jobs in Scotland.”

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Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The sale of both the smelter and hydro power station increases the chance of the site having a viable, long-term future.

“This is great news for the whole local community and especially for the workers at the smelter. Subject to all necessary agreed processes, the deal implemented will safeguard 150 jobs and has the potential to create hundreds more.

“With GFG Alliance, incorporating SIMEC and the Liberty House Group, as the successful bidder, I look forward to an exciting new chapter in the history of the Lochaber complex, with the UK’s last remaining aluminium smelter at Fort William continuing as a key component of Scotland’s industrial capability and a major source of employment in the Highlands and Islands.”

The agreement follows Liberty’s reopening of the mothballed steel plate mill at Dalzell in Motherwell.