The owner of Fort William aluminium smelter has said it wants to alter plans for its £120 million alloy wheel factory at the site to enable it to double its output.
With preparations to build the 400-worker plant under way, GFG Alliance is now considering an option to change the design so it could be adapted to increase its capacity and create more jobs in future.
The company, which is headed by international entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta, said the move followed a “very encouraging” response from Britain’s car makers to the prospect of being able to source alloy wheels in Scotland rather than having to import their entire supply.
The current design, approved by Highland Council earlier this year, allows for a plant that would use half the aluminium produced in Fort William, with the rest being sold to other factories around the UK. GFG said its long-term aim was to “optimise the value” of the smelter and its associated hydro power schemes by turning all the metal produced there into alloy wheels.
GFG’s Lochaber operations director Brian King said: “At present, almost all of the eight million alloy wheels used in British-made cars come from abroad. That’s going to change, and Scotland will be the flagbearer for that change.”
He continued: “We’re looking at ways of future-proofing the plant to ensure its long-term sustainability. That would save time and money down the line if we need to increase capacity. We’ll be discussing this with local communities and Highland Council as part of our preparations to build the factory.”