December 20, 2005 in Business

Boeing signs deal to buy aluminum plate from Trentwood

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Boeing Co. announced Tuesday that it has signed a new long-term contract to buy aluminum plate made at Kaiser Aluminum Corp.’s Trentwood rolling mill.

The deal is another big boost for the company as it prepares to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and invests $75 million in new equipment at the Spokane Valley factory.

Boeing has been a longtime customer of Kaiser, but the new deal is expected to “significantly increase” the amount of aluminum bought and sold between the two, according to a Kaiser press release.

The announcement follows a large contract Kaiser signed with Boeing competitor Airbus earlier this year for the same type of plate aluminum, Kaiser spokesman Geoff Mordock said.

Terms of the contract, including the value, amount of aluminum shipped and length of time, were not divulged.

Kaiser is buying and installing a “stretcher” machine that’s 250 feet long and weighs about 3.5 million pounds. It will be operational in 2008, the company has said.

Other new equipment at Trentwood includes heat-treat furnaces and an ultrasonic inspection system.

The equipment will make heavy-gauge aluminum plate up to 10 inches thick.

The Trentwood improvements come after a grueling four-year bankruptcy reorganization. Kaiser is expected to emerge from bankruptcy protection in mid-January.

About 600 people are employed at the rolling mill, which has dramatically changed during the past several years.

Workers no long produce aluminum that is made into beverage cans. Instead, Kaiser decided to focus on producing metal for the aerospace industry.


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