Alcoa Inc. has strengthened its presence in China for injection molded closures while selling off a small piece of its extruded film business in South America.
The Pittsburgh company has launched an 87,500-square-foot facility in Hangzhou, China, south of Shanghai, to mold closures for customers in the Pacific Rim, said Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery. The facility will ship closures to Japan for carbonated soft drink bottles and will provide some closures to China, he said.
The facility opened July 12 and has two manufacturing cells capable of producing 800 million closures annually, Lowery said. The plant, employing 110, could expand to eight lines, he said.
The company would not disclose how much it invested in the plant, which has been under construction since January. The site makes linerless closures for aseptically filled and hot-filled bottles.
Alcoa has one other plastic closures plant in China, in Tianjin, Lowery said. The facilities are operated by Alcoa's Closure Systems International unit.
Meanwhile, Alcoa has sold a film extrusion plant in Itaipava, Brazil, to Dixie Toga SA, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based company that specializes in flexible packaging.
The Itaipava facility employs 200 extruding and printing film for consumer and food applications, Lowery said. The business will be wrapped into Dixie Toga's Itap Bemis operation, a maker of flexible and semi-hard packaging.
Dixie Toga is one of South America's largest manufacturers of flexible packaging, employing about 3,400. A company spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
The sale by Alcoa completes a divestiture program launched in January 2003, Lowery said. The company has sold off some of its noncore or redundant assets.
Alcoa still has considerable holdings in Brazil, Lowery added.
In other news, Alcoa officials also have been concerned with a July 10 fire at the firm's Alcoa Kama Corp. headquarters in Hazleton, Pa. A safety valve attached to a chemical tank exploded during an evening shift at the film and sheet plant, Lowery said.
A few workers suffered minor injuries, he said. By July 12, the plant was operating at a partial level, Lowery said. About 40 of the plant's 200 workers were at the plant at the time of the explosion, said sources at the scene.
The firm is assessing damage but expects to return to full operations soon, Lowery added.