Alcoa announced that it has signed an agreement in principle with the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to build a world-class 341,000 metric-tons-per-year aluminum smelter (mtpy) in the Cap-de-Ville area in southwestern Trinidad. This agreement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding in May 2004 for participation by Alcoa in the development of an aluminum industry in Trinidad and Tobago.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alcoa will begin an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the location in Cap-de-Ville as part of the company's commitment to sustainable development principles. The company will also complete detailed feasibility studies to determine the full scope and cost of the proposed project.

It is anticipated that Alcoa would build a 341,000 mtpy aluminum smelter, an associated anode plant, and cast house. Project plans call for the production of 240,000 mtpy of billet and forging stock, and also include possible downstream facilities. The facilities would be powered by a self-contained power plant fueled by natural gas. The new smelter and related facilities are projected to cost approximately $1.5 billion.

Alcoa will hold 100 percent interest in the smelter with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago an active partner in the provision or facilitation of requisite infrastructure.

It is expected that upon completion, the smelter and associated facilities would permanently employ approximately 750 to 800 people directly and indirectly through associated jobs in the region.

Construction would not begin until the completion of the EIA, and final approvals by Alcoa's Board of Directors and by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. First metal production would be expected in late 2008. Employment during the two-year construction period for the smelter is expected to average approximately 1,500 additional jobs.

In making the announcement, Alcoa chairman and CEO, Alain Belda, reaffirmed that the new Trinidad and Tobago smelter underlines Alcoa's belief in the future of the Caribbean region as a major supplier of global alumina and aluminum markets.

"With the competitive and efficient energy source, the access to skilled labor, and efficient proximity to alumina supplies and customers, the Trinidad smelter will be ideally placed to compete for its share of the world market in primary aluminum," said Belda. "It also creates a solid foundation for the development of an integrated aluminum industry to further diversify and strengthen the economy of Trinidad and Tobago. In terms of technology, design, and environmental performance, this will be a world-class facility," added Belda.

The Trinidad and Tobago smelter would be Alcoa's third major primary products facility in the Caribbean basin. The company operates a 1.25 million mtpy alumina refinery in Clarendon Jamaica, through a venture between Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals (AWAC) - a global alliance between Alcoa and Alumina Ltd., with Alcoa holding 60 percent - and the government of Jamaica. Alcoa has plans for a 1.5 million mtpy expansion of the Jamalco facility, bringing total capacity to 2.7 million mtpy. And in Suriname, the company has bauxite mining, alumina refining and hydropower facilities, including its recently expanded 2.2 million mtpy Suralco alumina refinery in Paranam, jointly owned through AWAC with BHP Billiton.

Alcoa has had operations in Trinidad and Tobago for more than 60 years where its Tembladora Transfer Station loads approximately 525,000 metric tons of alumina from Suriname for shipment throughout the world each year.