Santa Cruz could expand Punta Quilla port for Aluar plant

Friday, May 21, 2004

Authorities in southern Argentina's Santa Cruz province will study expanding infrastructure at Punta Quilla port and the potential costs involved if aluminum maker Aluar decides to install a plant there, the province's economy minister Luis Villanueva told BNamericas.

"We'll analyze how to go about it but the company [Aluar] hasn't made a decision yet - it's still at the feasibility study stage," he said. "If a lack of infrastructure is among the weaknesses identified, the province will look at how to resolve it."

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The minister also said the new plant would require between 450MW and 500MW of electric power, and "the province cannot satisfy such demand with its present installations."

That leaves two options, Villanueva said. Either the company could generate its own power, or a hydroelectric plant could be built. This issue would be dealt with in the feasibility study. There is no fixed timetable to make such decisions, he added.

Punta Quilla lies on the South Atlantic Ocean, 17km from the larger Santa Cruz port.

Aluar is Argentina's biggest aluminum producer and has installed capacity of 280,000t at its plant in Puerto Madryn in neighboring Chubut province. Under a separate project, the company plans to increase output at the current plant to 400,000t for a capital outlay of US$480mn.

The company is controlled by the Madanez Quintanilla family.