Ashland Alliance

Industry analyst says Braidy alumimum plant ‘interesting business case’

The CEO of an aluminum mill slated to open in eastern Kentucky claims the company will be able to sell aluminum for 50 percent cheaper than its competitors, allowing it to pay workers $65,000-per-year starting salaries.

This spring, Braidy is scheduled to break ground on the $1.3 billion plant, which will be located in an industrial park that straddles Greenup, Boyd and Carter Counties.

Braidy CEO Craig Bouchard said the company would open the facility in 2020 and employ 600 workers from the region. Future employees can qualify by getting a Braidy-tailored aluminum rolling associate’s degree from Ashland Community and Technical College.

Jorge Vazquez, director of Harbor Aluminum Intelligence, said the company has an “interesting business case” given the auto industry’s increased use of aluminum, Braidy’s location and a new “right-to-work” law approved by the state legislature.

“I think they have a case. I think it makes sense. I think that asserting that they’re going to produce at a much lower cost is not crazy,” Vazquez said.

Vazquez said the company will be the first to build an aluminum mill in the U.S. since 1985 — just as automakers indicate they’re going to use more aluminum in vehicles over the next decade.

“The use of aluminum sheet in transportation is growing in such a way that every year the market requires 20 percent more auto sheet in order to satisfy demand,” Vazquez said.

Braidy CEO Bouchard says Gov. Matt Bevin and the Republican-led legislature were instrumental in wooing the company to Kentucky. He has praised the state’s passage of a right-to-work law, which bans companies from requiring workers to pay union dues to keep their jobs — even if workers have voted to unionize the company.

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