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Alcoa Corporation
Company typePublic
Founded1888; 136 years ago (1888)
FounderCharles Martin Hall
HeadquartersPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Area served
Key people
RevenueDecrease US$10.55 billion (2023)
Decrease US$−584 million (2023)
Decrease US$−651 million (2023)
Total assetsDecrease US$14.16 billion (2023)
Total equityDecrease US$4.251 billion (2023)
Number of employees
13,600 (2023)
Footnotes / references
Financials as of December 31, 2023.
References: [1]

Alcoa Corporation (an acronym for "Aluminum Company of America") is a Pittsburgh-based industrial corporation. It is the world's eighth-largest producer of aluminum.[2][3] Alcoa conducts operations in 10 countries. Alcoa is a major producer of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum, and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry: technology, mining, refining, smelting, fabricating, and recycling.[4]

Alcoa emerged in 1888 as the brainchild of Charles Martin Hall, with the funding of Alfred E. Hunt and Arthur Vining Davis. Alcoa was the first mass producer of aluminum. Before Alcoa's formation, aluminum was difficult to refine and, as a result, was more expensive than silver or gold.[5] In 1886, Hall discovered the Hall–Héroult process, the first inexpensive technique for refining aluminum, drastically reducing the price of aluminum while increasing its availability. Hall approached Hunt and Davis to form a company to bring his process to market; the three founded Alcoa as the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, which expanded quickly. Hunt died in 1898 after fighting in the Spanish–American War. The company changed its name to the Aluminum Company of America in 1907. Alcoa increased production by 40% during World War I and was an essential supplier of aluminum in World War II.

In the 2000s, Alcoa purchased numerous competitors, including Reynolds Group Holdings (makers of Reynolds Wrap). On November 1, 2016, Alcoa Inc. split into two entities: a new one called Alcoa Corporation, which is engaged in the mining and manufacture of raw aluminum, and the renaming of Alcoa Inc. to Arconic Inc., which processes aluminum and other metals.[6] Alcoa has been criticized for its lax environmental record, but it no longer ranks highly as one of the worst polluters in the United States.



Hall's patent


In 1886, Charles Martin Hall, a graduate of Oberlin College, discovered the process of smelting aluminum, almost simultaneously with Paul Héroult in France.[7] He realized that by passing an electric current through a bath of cryolite and aluminum oxide, the then semi-rare metal aluminum remained as a byproduct.[8] This discovery, now called the Hall–Héroult process, along with the Bayer process, are the dominant processes for production of aluminum from bauxite ore.[citation needed]

A tablet marking where, in November 1888, the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, now Aluminum Company of America, produced the first commercial run of aluminum by the Hall Electrolytic Process. Tablet installed by Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania in 1938.

Fewer than ten sites in the United States and Europe produced aluminum at the time.[citation needed] In 1887, Hall agreed to try his process at the Electric Smelting and Aluminum Company plant in Lockport, New York.[citation needed] Still, it was not used, and Hall left after one year, teaming up with Alfred E. Hunt to form a new company.[9]

After graduating from Amherst College in 1888, Arthur Vining Davis joined the new venture because Arthur's father knew Alfred Hunt. At the time, aluminum sold at almost $5 per pound, making it too expensive to be used commercially. They were determined to lower the cost of production using Charles Hall's ideas; Hall, Davis, and others worked 12-hour days together for months on the experiments. Their first commercial aluminum pour was on Thanksgiving Day in 1888.[10]

Pittsburgh Reduction Company


The Pittsburgh Reduction Company began with an experimental smelting plant on Smallman Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Hunt as president and Hall as vice president. In 1891, the company began production in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Davis was named general manager and appointed to the board of directors in 1892. In 1895, a third site opened at Niagara Falls.[citation needed]

Hunt's departure


Hunt left the company in 1898 to fight in the Spanish–American War. While in Puerto Rico, he contracted Malaria. Less than a year after his return to the states, he died from complications of the disease at age 44.[11]

By about 1903, after a settlement with Hall's former employer, and while its patents were in force, the company was the only legal supplier of aluminum in the United States.[12][13]

By 1902, New Kensington consisted of 173,000 sq. feet on 15 acres with 276 employees. The company operated hydropower and reduction plants in Niagara Falls, NY (1895), Shawinigan Falls, Quebec (Northern Aluminum Company), mining operations in Bauxite, AR (1901), and reduction facilities in East St. Louis, IL (1902). "The Aluminum Company of America" became the firm's new name on January 1, 1907.[14] Davis was named company president in 1910 when the acronym "Alcoa" was coined. Hall remained a vice president until he died in 1914. It was given as a name to two of the locales where major corporate facilities were located (although one of these has since been changed), and in 1999, was adopted as the official corporate name.[citation needed]

From 1902 until 1915, additional plants in Massena, New York (1903), Alcoa, Tennessee (1911), Edgewater, New Jersey (1915), Badin, North Carolina (1915) came online while New Kensington had 31 buildings in the complex housing six departments (tubes, sheets, rods, bar and wire, extrusion, jobbing, foil) and two subsidiaries (Aluminum Cooking Utensil Company and Aluminum Seal Company). In 1907, it created the "company town" of Pine Grove, New York, for workers outside Massena. In Badin, Alcoa, Maryville and other locations, the company funded the construction of schools, parks, playgrounds, and medical facilities.[14]

The World Wars


Historian George David Smith notes that "war was good to Alcoa."[15] By the end of World War I Alcoa's New Kensington facility accounted for 3,292 workers—a fifth of the local population—and covered over 1 million square feet of manufacturing space on 75 acres.[14] The war enabled Alcoa to increase production by 40% and to export some ninety million pounds to the Western Allies.[15]

After WWI, Alcoa obtained the rights to Alfred Wilm's duralumin patent, which led to additional research into other aluminum alloys. By 1923, Alcoa's New Kensington, Pennsylvania plant was using horizontal extrusion presses, with preheated billets, for aerospace and construction applications.[16] One of the first industrial uses was for the Navy's Shenandoah, followed ten years later with airplane applications.[17] The Northern Aluminum Company in Quebec was renamed the Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN) in 1925. They were responsible for the rapid development of Arvida, Quebec, a remote area 250 km north of Quebec City. Infrastructure was necessary to support the workforce required by the aluminum plant, so the company funded the construction of schools, parks, playgrounds, and medical facilities.[14]

Davis was named chairman of Alcoa's board of directors in 1928 and remained in that role for thirty years until his retirement.[citation needed]

In 1938, the Justice Department charged Alcoa with illegal monopolization and demanded that the company be dissolved. The case of United States v. Alcoa was settled six years later.

Aluminum products were of crucial use during World War II.[15] A German U-Boat sank the SS Alcoa Puritan in 1942, as it carried a load of bauxite ore.[18]



In 1998, Alcoa acquired Alumax in a cash and share deal for $2.8 billion. Alcoa paid $50 a share in cash for half of the shares and 0.6975 Alcoa share for each of the remaining Alumax shares. Alcoa also assumed $1 billion in debt.[19] Alumax's assets included the Eastalco aluminum smelter in Adamstown, Maryland, the Intalco aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Washington, and the Kawneer brand of building construction products.[citation needed]



In 2000, Alcoa acquired Reynolds Metals Co. in an all-share deal for $4.5 billion. To clear anti-competition regulatory hurdles, Alcoa was required to sell Reynolds's 25% interest in a Washington smelter and all of Reynolds's alumina refineries. Reynolds owned a 56% interest in the Worsley alumina refinery in Australia, a 50% interest in a refinery in Germany, and a 100% interest in a Texas refinery. Alcoa also planned to sell Reynolds's construction and distribution business and the company's $400 million transportation business.[20] Alcoa sold its packaging and consumer business, formerly called Reynolds Metals, to the Rank Group for $2.7 billion in 2008.[21]



In 2000, Alcoa also purchased Cordant Technologies Inc. for $57 a share in cash, or $2.3 billion, and assumed $685 million of Cordant's debt for a total transaction value of $2.9 billion. Cordant's divisions included Huck Fasteners, Jacobson Mfg. Co., Continental/Midland Group, its 85% interest in Howmet International Inc., and Thiokol Corporation.[22][23][24] In 2001, Alcoa sold Thiokol for $2.9 billion to Alliant Techsystems (ATK).



Alcoa purchased an 8% stake of Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) in 2001.[25] It tried to form a strategic alliance with China's largest aluminum producer, at its Pingguo facility; however, it was unsuccessful. Alcoa sold their stake in Chalco on September 12, 2007, for around $2 billion.[26][27]



In 2004, Alcoa's specialty chemicals business was sold to two private equity firms led by Rhône Group for an enterprise value of $342 million, which included the assumption of debt and other unfunded obligations.[28] Rhône Group then changed the name to Almatis, Inc.

Corporate relocation


In 2006, Alcoa relocated its top executives from Pittsburgh to New York City while its operational headquarters was still at its Corporate Center in Pittsburgh. Alcoa employed approximately 2,000 people at its Corporate Center in Pittsburgh and 60 at its New York office.[29] Alcoa moved its headquarters back to Pittsburgh effective September 1, 2017, as part of a general consolidation of administrative facilities around the world.[30][31] In October 2018, Alcoa announced plans to move from Pittsburgh's North Shore to a downtown Pittsburgh location.[32]

Alcan bid


In May 2007, Alcoa Inc. made a US$27 billion hostile takeover bid for Alcan in an attempt to form the world's largest aluminum producer.[33] The bid was withdrawn when Alcan announced a friendly takeover by Rio Tinto in July 2007.[34]

On May 8, 2008, Klaus Kleinfeld was appointed CEO of Alcoa, succeeding Alain Belda.[35] On April 23, 2010, Alcoa's board of directors selected Kleinfeld to the office of chairman, following Belda's planned retirement.[36]



On July 16, 2012, Alcoa announced that it would take over full ownership and operation of Evermore Recycling and make it part of Alcoa's Global Packaging group. Evermore Recycling is a leader in used beverage can recycling, purchasing more recycled cans than any other group worldwide.[37]

In June 2013, Alcoa announced it would permanently close its Fusina primary aluminum smelter in Venice, Italy, where production had been curtailed since June 2010.[38]

On January 9, 2014, Alcoa settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice over charges of bribing Bahraini officials. Under the settlement terms, they will pay the SEC $175 million to settle the charges. To resolve the criminal claims with the DoJ, Alcoa World Alumina (AWA, a company within Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals) is pleading guilty to one count of violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). AWA will pay the DoJ $223 million in five equal installments over the next four years, bringing the company's total bill for the scandal to $384 million.[39]

Company split


In June 2016, Alcoa Inc. announced plans to split itself into two companies: Alcoa Inc would be renamed as Arconic and would take over the business of designing and building processed metal parts, primarily for the automotive and aerospace industries; a new company, Alcoa Corporation, would be set up and spun out of the remainder of Alcoa Inc. and retain the Alcoa name. Alcoa Corp. would continue the mining, smelting, and refining of raw aluminum.[40] The split was completed on November 1, 2016.[6]

Environmental record


In 2008, the Political Economy Research Institute ranked Alcoa 15th among corporations emitting airborne pollutants in the United States. The ranking is based on the quantity (13 million pounds in 2005) and toxicity of the emissions.[41] More recently Alcoa ranked first in the United States even though they had reduced their emissions to less than 5 million pounds in 2014.[42] Alcoa's most recently published ranking has dropped to 72nd based on 2020 data.[43]

In 2005, Alcoa was again included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and was named as one of the top three most sustainable corporations in the world by Corporate Knights and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors at the World Economic Forum meeting.[44]

In April 2003, Alcoa Inc. agreed to spend an estimated $330 million to install a new coal-fired power plant with state-of-the-art pollution controls to eliminate the vast majority of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the power plant at Alcoa's aluminum production facility in Rockdale, Texas. The settlement was the ninth case the Bush administration pursued to bring the coal-fired power plant industry into full compliance with the Clean Air Act. Alcoa was unlawfully operating at the Rockdale facility since it overhauled the Rockdale power plant without installing necessary pollution controls and without first obtaining proper permits required by "New Source Review" program of the Clean Air Act.[45]

In February 1999, Alcoa cleaned soils and sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and lead at the York Oil federal Superfund site in Moira, New York, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency. The site, a former waste oil recycling storage facility, accepted waste oil from several companies, including Alcoa. The facility was improperly managed and operated, and as a result, soils on the York Oil Property and nearby wetlands sediments and groundwater were contaminated. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Superfund Unilateral Order on December 31, 1998, requiring Alcoa to excavate, treat and dispose of the contaminated wetlands sediments.[46]

Operations by country




Alcoa formed the Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica subsidiary on the island in 1959, shipping their first load of bauxite in 1963 from Rocky Point. Later in 1972, Alcoa established a 500,000 tonne per year refinery that processes bauxite into alumina. They have continued to upgrade the plant through the years, and it is now capable of 1,425,000 tonnes per year.[citation needed] In 1988, the Jamaican government gained a 50% share in the subsidiary and renamed the operation to Jamalco, Alcoa being the managing partner. Expansion of the operation in 2007 resulted in Alcoa owning 55% of the operation. Alcoa continues to mine bauxite in the Jamaican parishes of Clarendon and Manchester, while competitors' operations occur in nearby parishes.[citation needed]

Dominican Republic


In the 1970s, Alcoa negotiated with the Dominican Republic government concerning its bauxite mining operations. The U.S. Department of State expressed concerns that the Dominican Republic might follow Jamaica's lead in imposing higher taxes on Alcoa's operations. This period was marked by intense discussions and negotiations regarding the taxation and revenue from bauxite mining, highlighting the complexities of international business operations and the impact of global commodity markets on local economies.[47]

Alcoa Road, also known as El Aceitillar, is a significant part of Alcoa's legacy in the Dominican Republic. Originally constructed for a bauxite mine, it now leads to Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. This area offers an opportunity to observe endemic species and serves as a reminder of the environmental dimensions of industrial operations. Alcoa Road's transition from an access route for mining to a gateway for environmental observation underscores the evolving relationship between industry and conservation.[48]



Alcoa's affiliate in Ghana, the Volta Aluminum Company, was completely closed between May 2003 and early 2006 due to problems with its electricity supply.[49][50]



Alcoa is a major owner of the Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée through Halco Mining, together with Rio Tinto Alcan and the Guinean government.[51] Guinea is the second global producer of bauxite and it is said to have half of the world's reserves.[citation needed]



In 2005, Alcoa began construction in Iceland on Alcoa Fjarðaál, a state-of-the-art aluminum smelter and the company's first greenfield smelter in more than 20 years,[52] albeit under heavy criticism by local and international NGOs related to a controversial dam project exclusively dedicated to supplying electricity to this smelter. The Fjarðaál smelter in eastern Iceland was completed in June 2007 and brought into full operation the following April. The plant processes 940 tons of aluminum a day, with a capacity of 346,000 metric tons a year,[53] making it Alcoa's second largest capacity smelter. For power, the plant relies on the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant, constructed and operated by the state-owned Landsvirkjun specifically for the smelting operation. That project was subject to controversy due to its impact on the environment.[citation needed]

In 2006, Alcoa and the government of Iceland signed an agreement on instigating a thorough feasibility study for a new 250,000 tpy (Tons Per Year) smelter in Bakki by Húsavík in Northern Iceland. In October 2011, the proposed project was dropped because "the power availability and proposed pricing would not support an aluminum smelter".[4][third-party source needed]

Alcoa announced plans to close the office in Reykjavik.[citation needed]



In 2005 Alcoa acquired two major production facilities in Russia, at Samara and Belaya Kalitva.[54]



On November 21, 2006, Alcoa announced that it planned to close the Waunarlwydd works in Swansea, with the loss of 298 jobs. Production ceased at the Swansea plant on January 27, 2007. A small site closure team worked until December 31, 2008. Alcoa still owns the site, but it is now managed locally and renamed Westfield Industrial Park.[citation needed] Several of the large buildings are leased out to local businesses.[55][56]



Alcoa operates bauxite mines, alumina refineries, and aluminum smelters through Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, a joint venture between Alumina Limited and Alcoa. Alcoa operates two bauxite mines in Western Australia—the Huntly and Willowdale mines. Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals owns and operates three alumina refineries in Western Australia: Kwinana, Pinjarra, and Wagerup. The Wagerup expansion plans were put on hold due to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. In January 2024, Alcoa announced it would cease alumina production at its Kwinana refinery that year.[57] Two aluminum smelters are also operated in the state of Victoria at Portland and Point Henry; the Point Henry smelter was scheduled to be closed in August 2014.[58] Alcoa Australia Rolled Products, a 100% Alcoa Inc. venture, operates two rolling mills. The Point Henry Rolling Mill in Victoria and the Yennora Rolling Mill in N.S.W. have a combined rolling capacity of approx. 200,000 tonnes. Alcoa uses 12,600 GWh, or 15% of Victoria's electricity annually.[59]

Alcoa's Western Australian Wagerup plant has a troubled history in the context of claims that pollution from the plant has harmed the health of members of the adjacent local community.[60][61][62]

United States


On January 3, 2003, Alcoa opened its new operations headquarters on the North Shore of Pittsburgh. This move came about after it donated its 50-year-old skyscraper headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh to the Regional Development Authority.[citation needed]

Alcoa created a plant just outside Maryville in Blount County, Tennessee. To support the factory, Alcoa built a small city and named it as such. The Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union was the first employee-created credit union in the state. The plant is no longer an Alcoa business.[63]

Alcoa's Massena West plant is the longest-operating smelter in the United States, continuously operating since 1902. The Reynolds Aluminum Plant became Massena East when the companies merged in 2000.[citation needed]

Alcoa had a smelting plant in Badin, North Carolina from 1917 to 2007 and continued a hydroelectric power operation there until February 1, 2017, when the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project was sold to Cube Hydro.[64]

Alcoa also operates an aluminum smelting plant of similar size to the one in Tennessee in Warrick County, Indiana, just east of Newburgh. Vectren Energy operates a coal power plant on the site to provide electricity. In 2021, Alcoa retained the aluminum smelter and generating station while selling the rest of the facility to Kaiser Aluminum. This sale included the cast house, ingot facilities, hot mill, cold mills, and finishing mills.[citation needed]

Alcoa maintains several Research and Development Centers in the United States. The largest one, Alcoa Technical Center, is located East of its Pittsburgh Headquarters at Alcoa Center, Pennsylvania. The "Tech Center" is as large as some college campuses, has its own zip code, and maintains an extensive intellectual and physical resource for innovation.[citation needed] Alcoa's extensive safety program continuously improves safety at the Tech Center. After Paul O'Neill became Alcoa's CEO in 1987, Alcoa became one of the safest companies in the world, despite the aluminum industry's inherent risks.[65][better source needed]

Alcoa plans to close offices in Richmond, Virginia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago.[31]

Alcoa Steamship Company

House flag used by Alcoa Steamship Company
Old house flag used by Alcoa Steamship Company (1963-1990s)
Old house flag used by Alcoa Steamship Company (1917-1963)

The Alcoa Steamship Company was a subsidiary of ALCOA since the company was formed in 1917.[66]

  • List of ships:
    • SS Alcoa Banner (SS Sundance)[67]
    • SS Alcoa Cavalier
    • SS Alcoa Clipper
    • SS Alcoa Corsair
    • SS Alcoa Guide[68]
    • SS Alcoa Partner
    • SS Alcoa Patriot
    • SS Alcoa Pegasus
    • SS Alcoa Pennant
    • SS Alcoa Pilgrim
    • SS Alcoa Pioneer[69][70]
    • SS Alcoa Planter
    • SS Alcoa Pointer
    • SS Alcoa Polaris
    • SS Alcoa Puritan
    • SS Alcoa Ranger
    • SS Alcoa Roamer
    • SS Alcoa Runner
    • SS Bushranger[71]

From 1955 to 1957, Alcoa sponsored The Alcoa Hour, an anthology television series on NBC. The series ran for 48 episodes across two seasons and would feature an advertisement for Alcoa products before the credits of each program. The series featured some of the early work of director Sidney Lumet, the five-time Oscar nominee known for the 1957 version of 12 Angry Men.

Between 1957 and 1960, the Alcoa-sponsored Alcoa Theatre, an NBC anthology television series that went on to win three Emmys. From 1961 to 1963, Alcoa sponsored a third anthology television series on ABC. Alcoa Premiere was hosted by Fred Astaire and received 14 Emmy nominations during its two-year run.

Alcoa is portrayed as the main sponsor of the 1953 CBS program See It Now in George Clooney's Academy Award–nominated 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.[72]

See also



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