Nordural is owned by Century Aluminum which has headquarters in Monterey in California in the United States. Century's primary aluminum capacity will stand at 785,000-mtpy by the end of 2007. The company owns and operates a 244,000-mtpy plant at Hawesville, KY, a 170,000-mtpy plant at Ravenswood, WV and the plant at Grundartangi, Iceland. Century also owns a 49.67-percent interest in a 222,000-mtpy reduction plant at Mt. Holly, SC. Alcoa Inc. owns the remainder and is the operating partner. In addition, Century holds a 50 percent share of the 1.25-mtpy Gramercy Alumina Plant in Gramercy, LA., along with related bauxite assets in Jamaica.
Century acquired Norðurál in April 2004 but before that the owner of the company was Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC), which has headquarters in Vancouver, Washington in the United States. CVC is owned and managed by Kenneth D. Peterson. Jr..
In 1995 Columbia Ventures Corporation (CVC) decided to build a new primary aluminum smelter. After an evaluation of the possible options it was decided to make such an expansion outside the US. In August 1996, it became apparent that Iceland was the most feasible alternative.
The first earth moving equipment came on site at Grundartangi in Iceland in early April 1997. Only 14 months later, in June 1998, the first pot was successfully started up. Initially the smelter had a production capacity of 60,000-ton per year and in the summer of 2001 it was increased to 90,000-ton per year. In2006 the production capacity was brought to 220.000-ton and in November 2007 it reached 260.000 ton per year.
At a capital cost of approximately USD 900 million and an annual gross turnover of approximately USD 500 million in product, Nordural is Iceland's largest industrial facility. Nordural represents a major step forward in Iceland's drive to diversify the economy and utilize under-developed hydroelectric and geothermal resources that can be harnessed to provide an environmentally clean source of sustainable electrical energy.
Metal production takes place in two reduction lines with 520 pots with prebaked anodes, which are fully hooded and connected to a central fume treatment plant, which cleans the exhaust gas. Overhead manipulator cranes, two in each potroom, tend the pots. The cranes are used to change anodes, tap metal, and fill aluminum fluoride. A dense phase system takes the alumina from the harbour silo to the pots. The pots are equipped with center hoppers incorporating crustbreakers and point feeders from wich alumina and aluminum fluoride are fed. The process in each pot is controlled by the VAW ELAS control system.
Each pot has 20 anodes, which are regularly changed out in a planned sequence during their 28 day life. Each anode is about 1000 kg when new and is gradually consumed leaving a 250 kg anode butt at the end of the 28 day period. After that it is lifted out of the pot and then taken back from the potrooms to the rodding shop where it is cleaned. The anode butt that is left is removed from the anode rod and crushed so it can be used to make a new anode. The anode rod is cleaned and then a new prebaked anode is attached to the rod before being brought back to the potrooms where it starts the cycle again.
Each pot produces up to 1.4 tons of metal per day. The pots are tapped every day and the 960 °C hot metal is transported in crucibles with 8 ton capacity to the metal casting house. There the metal is collected in a 60 ton capacity furnaces. After the metal has reached the optimal temperature for casting the furnace is opened and the metal flows into the casting molds and solidifies as 22 kg aluminum ingots.