There's a new majority owner for an alumina refinery and chemical alumina plant in St. James Parish as part of a deal that could spur development of a $1 billion plant to extract rare earth elements from alumina residue at the site near Gramercy.
Concord Resources Ltd. said Wednesday that it acquired a portion of the interest in New Day Aluminum Holdings LLC owned by DADA Holdings LLC, making Concord the majority owner of New Day's Noranda Bauxite, Noranda Alumina and NICHE Industrial Chemicals in St. James Parish, and will keep New Day's headquarters in Gramercy.
Concord also acquired a majority interest in Noranda Bauxite mine operations in St. Ann, Jamaica, owned in partnership with the government of Jamaica.
Concord, which is based in the United Kingdom, had been a minority stakeholder since 2018 and becomes the majority owner of the Louisiana and Jamaica facilities with the deal. Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based DADA will hold a minority interest in the facilities, while retaining majority control of operations in France and England, with Concord continuing to own a minority stake there.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Noranda Alumina employs more than 400 workers in Gramercy. The average annual salary for those jobs is $90,000.
Back in 2018, New Day had finished a $110 million refinancing and wrapped up two expansion projects at the Noranda Alumina facility in Gramercy that it acquired in 2016. London-based Concord had an exclusive deal for marketing the smelter-grade alumina produced in Gramercy.
The facilities previously were owned by Franklin, Tennessee-based Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp., which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016.
"We are proud of what we have done in transforming these previously bankrupt assets into a valued and reliable business that will continue to thrive," said David D’Addario, chairman of DADA.
“We are very excited to have New Day Aluminum join the Concord family and see great value with New Day as a complementary evolution of Concord’s global alumina business,” said Mark Hansen, Concord's CEO. John Habisreitinger will remain with New Day as president, reporting to Hansen.
Concord said it runs one of the largest independent smelter-grade alumina marketing operations in the industry and delivers over 4 million tons of non-ferrous metal commodity products per year to a worldwide customer base.
The St. James Parish refinery extracts alumina from raw, rust-colored bauxite ore shipped up the Mississippi River. Once processed, the alumina is sent elsewhere to make aluminum and other products. The processing leaves behind a red mud. For every 1 ton of alumina produced, upwards of 1.2 tons of red sludge is created.
Plans were announced previously for an $800 million facility that would extract rare earth elements from toxic residue leftover at Noranda Alumina. That project is led by DADA Holdings through a joint venture with Toronto-based Enervoxa in a business known as ElementUS.
Officials said Wednesday the sale of a portion of DADA's interest in the alumina facilities would enable the businesses to focus on bringing to life what is now a nearly $1 billion project.
The board of trustees for the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, a quasi-public agency that provides bond financing for development of public and private projects, has approved a "significant allocation" of tax-exempt private activity bonds that would be used to fund the construction of the facility.
Some rare earth elements are critical in making consumer products such as batteries, magnets, smartphones and flat-screen televisions but also industrial products such as refining catalysts, aircraft engines, electric vehicles and medical scanning equipment.
If the rare earths extraction facility is built, the companies expect to hire 200 workers at an average annual salary of $85,000 plus benefits.