GM Contracts Magnesium Supply

Automaker's demand could increase output for U.S. Mag

General Motors Corp. reportedly has arranged a supply deal with U.S. Magnesium L.L.C., for as much as 9,000 metric tons/year of magnesium alloy products formerly supplied by Hydro Magnsesium. Neither GM nor U.S. Mag will detail the terms of the contract, though it is reported to represent a significant portion of the latter's ingot capacity.

Utah-based U.S. Magnesium operates an electrolytic smelter on the west shore of the Great Salt Lake. It extracts magnesium chloride from the salt water, converting the salt into primary metal. After the closing of several other North American magnesium smelters in the past decade — i.e., Dow Chemical, Alcoa's Northwest Alloys, Noranda, and most recently Hydro Magnesium — U.S. Mag is North America's last remaining producer of primary magnesium.

U.S. Mag is producing an estimated 43,000 metric tons/year of ingots, but that output might be increased to as much as 52,000 metric tons if demand warrants. That 9,000-metric ton difference is roughly equal to the amount GM is thought to be seeking to replace the magnesium alloy formerly supplied by Hydro.

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