Century Aluminum Executive Vice President Jesse Gary said his company will begin hiring up to 300 new workers for its Hancock County smelter as soon as a proposed tariff order is signed.
President Trump is expected to announce a 10 percent tariff on aluminum and a 25 percent tariff on steel this week. Century Aluminum said its smelter in Hancock County could be back to full capacity by 2019 if the tariff order is signed.
Gary said the company will also invest $100 million in its Hawesville facility. He said he doesn’t buy the argument made by many critics that tariffs will lead to more expensive domestic steel and aluminum.
“So when people talk about halting investment or job losses in downstream industry, all we can point back to is the data,” he said. “And we don’t think price increases at this level are going to lead to any demand destruction in these industries.”
Gary said a 40 percent drop in the price of aluminum in 2015 did not result in a lowering of prices for aluminum products.
He said Kentucky is already the largest producer of aluminum in the U.S., and could produce even more if the tariffs become a reality. Critics of the tariffs say they’ll spark a broader trade war and jeopardize recent economic gains in the U.S.