Spokane Journal of Business

Canadian company eyes Addy smelter purchase

Company plans green magnesium smelting operations in the states

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Western Magnesium Corp., a British Columbia, Canada-based producer of magnesium metal, has announced it is exploring the purchase of a former smelter site in Stevens County. 

A Western Magnesium representative declines to comment on the plans, but confirms the company is in negotiations to purchase the property.

In a press release provided by the company, Western Magnesium CEO Sam Ataya says, “Our hope is that our facility serves as a locus of smart manufacturing activity, breaks our reliance on dirty, low-quality foreign magnesium, and produces a better, cleaner, domestic product that re-establishes American manufacturing dominance.”

The site, formerly the Northwest Alloys Inc. magnesium smelter, is located at 1560A Marble Valley Road in Addy, about 60 miles north of Spokane via U.S. 395. The plant was shuttered in 2001 due to high energy costs and low magnesium prices, making it difficult to complete with smelters overseas, such as in China, that typically have lower labor costs and comparatively lower environmental standards.

As of December 2018, China produced about 82% of the world’s magnesium supply, according to a U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity summary. 

Western Magnesium claims its scalable commercial furnaces require a smaller footprint and are more environmentally friendly with a new continuous process using a silicon agent at high temperatures. The process reduces labor and energy costs, in comparison to current methods and processes, the company asserts.

“If successful, the site will be created as a center for magnesium metal production and innovation, where like-minded companies can collaborate to take full advantage of our revolutionary, clean production process,” Ataya claims.

Western Magnesium hasn’t disclosed the number of jobs it hopes to create. At its height, the Northwest Alloys plant provided 770 jobs and accounted for 4.9% of total employment in Stevens County, according to previous reports about the company.

According to the Stevens County Assessor’s records, Northwest Alloys, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Corp., still owns the property on Marble Valley Road, which is appraised at just under $738,000.

Information on Alcoa’s website shows the 1,200-acre property currently has 23 buildings ranging in size from 1,500 to 82,000 square feet. Alcoa is one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum.

The property currently is served by the BNSF and Kettle Falls International. 

The Addy plant is one of three properties listed for sale on Alcoa’s website, the other two being located in Alcoa, Tennessee, and Badin, North Carolina.

The Western Magnesium release says the company has identified several potential locations throughout the U.S. at which it could produce magnesium metal, with the goal of becoming a coast-to-coast producer to a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, defense, and general manufacturing.

“The real economic impact will be seen by transforming a potential manufacturing site into a center of innovation that may include worker housing and amenities to attract scientists, engineers, and the skilled workforce needed to create an entirely new American industry,” Ataya claims.

Western Magnesium, formerly Nevada Clean Magnesium Inc., is an over-the-counter publicly traded company that aims to be a low-cost producer of green, primary magnesium metal, according to the company’s website.

The company incorporated in Delaware in mid-May, discontinuing from the business corporation jurisdiction of British Columbia.

A release on the company’s website states it plans to locate its administrative headquarters in New York.

Natasha Nellis
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Reporter Natasha Nellis joined the Journal in May 2018 and covers real estate and construction. Natasha is an avid reader and loves taking photos, traveling, and learning new languages.

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