Alcoa Corporation (NYSE: AA) announces the full curtailment of production at its Kwinana Alumina Refinery in Western Australia, commencing in the second quarter of 2024. The 60-year-old facility, with an annual capacity of 2.2 million metric tons, faces closure due to factors such as age, scale, operating costs, bauxite grades, and market conditions. The phased reduction of the workforce from 800 to 250 employees by the third quarter of 2024 will accompany the curtailment, impacting workers, business partners, and the community.
In a strategic move, Alcoa Corporation reveals plans to curtail production at its Kwinana Alumina Refinery in Western Australia, initiating the process in the second quarter of 2024. The refinery, with a 60-year legacy, boasts an annual nameplate production capacity of 2.2 million metric tons. However, operating at approximately 80 percent of this capacity since January 2023, it faces a phased shutdown due to a comprehensive evaluation encompassing factors like age, scale, operating costs, bauxite grades, and prevailing market conditions.
Matt Reed, Alcoa’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, underscores the meticulous consideration behind this decision, acknowledging its ramifications on workers, business partners, and the local community. The curtailment plan involves a gradual reduction of the workforce, diminishing from around 800 employees at the beginning of 2024 to approximately 250 by the third quarter. The final cessation of alumina production is slated for the third quarter of 2025, accompanied by a further reduction in employee numbers to approximately 50.
Reed emphasizes Alcoa's commitment to supporting affected employees in transitioning to other opportunities, either within the company or through facilitation of employment elsewhere. The curtailment will not disrupt production at Alcoa's Pinjarra and Wagerup refineries, assuring continuity in their operations.
Despite the curtailment, Alcoa remains devoted to Western Australia in the long term. The Kwinana refinery, despite its closure, will be actively managed, and associated residue storage facilities will be maintained. The port facilities adjacent to the refinery will persist in importing raw materials and exporting alumina from Alcoa's Pinjarra Alumina Refinery.
Financially, the Kwinana refinery reported a net loss of approximately $130 million in 2023, prompting this strategic decision. Alcoa anticipates annual improvements of approximately $70 million starting in the third quarter of 2024 due to the curtailment. However, the refinery will continue to incur non-cash depreciation, depletion, and amortization expenses of about $40 million while curtailed.
To facilitate this transition, Alcoa plans to record restructuring charges of $180 million to $200 million in the first quarter of 2024. These charges encompass water management costs, employee-related expenses, asset retirement obligations, and other associated costs. Alcoa's share of these charges, after-tax and noncontrolling interest, is estimated to be between $76 million and $84 million, or $0.42 to $0.47 per share. The cash outlays related to these charges, totaling approximately $115 million, are expected to be incurred in 2024 and 2025.
Alcoa's decision to curtail production at the Kwinana Alumina Refinery marks a strategic pivot influenced by a comprehensive evaluation of various factors. While impacting the workforce and local community, this move aligns with Alcoa's commitment to long-term sustainability and financial viability. The phased reduction and eventual closure of the refinery aim to optimize operations and enhance overall financial performance, demonstrating Alcoa's adaptability in navigating the dynamic landscape of the aluminum industry.