Aleris broke ground on an expansion of its facility in Lewisport, Kentucky. The company is investing $350 million to equip the facility with additional heat treatment and finishing capabilities to produce wide aluminum auto body sheet for the automotive industry. Aleris is currently a leading supplier to the European premium auto industry, which has led to the transition to aluminum driven by tighter emissions standards.
"This groundbreaking marks the beginning of the next milestone in our global automotive strategy to expand our capabilities in North America as the automotive industry turns to broader aluminum use to produce vehicles that are more lightweight," said Steve Demetriou, Aleris Chairman and CEO. "We have a strong and talented team in Lewisport that has been an important part of the community for 50 years, and we couldn't have made this happen in Kentucky without the outstanding support of its local and state officials."
The company expects to begin construction on the project this fall, with a goal of shipping automotive body sheet material to customers by early 2017. When fully operational, the new facility will allow for the production of 480 million pounds of aluminum auto body sheet annually.
The company's investment will include the addition of heat treatment and finishing capabilities, including a new wide cold mill, two continuous annealing lines and an automotive innovation center.
Including Lewisport, the company has 11 rolled aluminum products facilities in North America, the majority of which serve building and construction, truck-trailer and metal distribution customers. Upon completion of the facility's upgrade, Lewisport will be the company's first site in North America that is equipped with aluminum auto body sheet finishing capabilities.