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Alcoa to close Point Henry smelter in Australia

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc said it will permanently close its Point Henry smelter and two rolling mills in Australia, after a two-year review found that the smelter had "no prospect of becoming financially viable."

Total restructuring charges related to the closures, which will reduce Alcoa's global smelting capacity by 190,000 metric tons, are expected to be between $250 and $270 million after-tax, or 22 to 25 cents per share.

The company expects to record about 60 percent of the charge in the current quarter, Alcoa said on Monday.

The 50-year-old Point Henry smelter, placed under strategic review in Feb. 2012, will close in August. Closure of the smelter in Geelong, Victoria and the rolling mills will affect about 980 jobs, the company said in a statement.

"... these assets are no longer competitive and are not financially sustainable today or into the future," Chief Executive Klaus Kleinfeld said.

The price of aluminum - used in the aerospace, construction and automotive sectors - has nearly halved since 2008 due to a massive global surplus of the metal, forcing loss-making firms to slash capacity and make savings.

The declines in aluminum prices have hurt Alcoa's upstream operations, which mine bauxite, refine it into alumina and smelt alumina to produce aluminum. In response, it has been shutting down higher-cost smelting capacity and focusing on more profitable segments, such as its engineered products business.

The company said in January that it would permanently close two potlines at its Massena East smelter in New York state in the first quarter.

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