Cabinet for Economic Development
Governor Beshear Announces $37 Million Investment in Sebree Aluminum Plant, Retention of 488 Kentucky Jobs

Press Release Date:  Thursday, February 10, 2011  
Contact Information:  Mandy Lambert, (502) 564-7670  


ROBARDS, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2011) – Gov. Steve Beshear today visited Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter in Sebree to announce a $37 million reinvestment project that will help retain the jobs of nearly 500 employees.  The plant, which is one of only a handful of aluminum smelters remaining in the United States, is installing a new bake furnace that will enable the facility to operate at its current capacity for the next 15-20 years. 

To compete on a global basis with newer, more efficient facilities around the world, many of Kentucky’s larger industrial aluminum plants are seeking ways to invest and reinvent their processes.  Gov. Beshear announced the approval of state tax incentives for the Sebree plant last year to encourage the company to make long-term investments in order to remain sustainable and globally competitive. 

“The aluminum industry in Kentucky is a critical piece of the industrial landscape,” said Gov. Beshear.  “Stabilizing our existing industries and creating opportunities for growth and expansion in aluminum are key to Kentucky’s short and long-term economic future. I’m pleased that we were able to help make this $37 million investment possible and that nearly 500 Kentucky jobs will be saved as a result of it.”  

The new bake furnace will be more environmentally friendly and efficient in baking anodes that are utilized in potlines.  The project is expected to be complete by August 2011. 

“The new bake furnace is important for the future of our plant and a safer operation,” said Stephane Leblanc, Sebree’s plant manager.  “Without it we would have to shut down the plant or buy anodes on the market.  The investment will open the door to move forward with other projects that will make the plant more sustainable for the coming years.”   

Kentucky is one of the top aluminum producing states. The industry employs more than 13,500 Kentuckians and generates $100 million in state and local tax revenue each year.  The average annual wage for a primary metals job in Kentucky is more than $52,000.  In 2005, more than $4.3 billion of primary aluminum products were shipped outside the state.  Transportation, containers and packaging industries make up the largest markets for Kentucky aluminum establishments.  The Sebree plant is one of the largest employers in the Henderson County community.   

“This is an exciting announcement for Northwest Kentucky,” said Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson.  “Rio Tinto Alcan is a great corporate neighbor and, on behalf of our community, I appreciate Governor Beshear taking the lead to support our Rio Tinto Alcan employees and their families.” 

“I’m really excited that we’re seeing additional money being pumped into the area and am proud that we can help this industry build on its already strong foundation,” said Rep. David Watkins of Henderson.  “This is exactly the kind of thing we need to do, because it will not only better protect the jobs already there, it will undoubtedly lead to more in the community.  I’m looking forward to seeing this project get underway.” 

“As a leading industry in Kentucky, we are proud to have Rio Tinto Alcan in Henderson County,” added Henderson County Judge Executive Hugh McCormick.  “They are a prime example of a business that invests in their facilities, their employees, and their communities.” 

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.   

A detailed community profile for Henderson (Henderson County) can be viewed at http://thinkkentucky.com/EDIS/cmnty/index.aspx?cw=031