Hydro opens new aluminum recycling plant in Cassopolis

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:26 PM EST
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CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (WNDU) - The first of many meltdowns is taking place in Cassopolis this week.

Ceremonies on Thursday marked the official opening of a $150-million aluminum recycling plant there.

A furnace that was brought in from Turkey was fired up on Monday. Today, it was running at 1,350 degrees Fahrenheit. Last week, Norsk Hydro unloaded its first four rail cars of scrap.

It’s official. The country’s second-largest free-standing aluminum recycling plant is up and running in Cassopolis.

Norsk Hydro looked at more than 20 possible sites before settling on the Cassopolis location.

“Of course, infrastructure was important. Tax policy is important. The workforce is important, but having a welcoming community, someone that was ready to partner with us, really helped Cassopolis rise to the top,” said Norsk Hydro’s Duncan Pitchford.

There was even an “ah-ha” moment at today’s ceremonies as the Cassopolis High School Marching Band played “Take on Me.”  The song is the product of a Norwegian Pop band named A-ha.

“I was born and raised in Cassopolis. Grown up here. Went to high school, graduated high school here. They brought the high school band in for our ceremony.  I almost broke down and cried,” said Hydro employee Suzanne Foster.

Foster has spent 35 years working in manufacturing, in human resources, and plant safety positions.

She says the Hydro job is the opportunity of a lifetime.  “They’re committed to their employees.  They are the most committed company to safety that I’ve ever worked for, and they will back safety before they will worry about how much money they make or anything else in the company.”

The company is so committed to safety and skills training that some newly hired operators were sent overseas to bone up.  “Some of the technology is brand new to the United States and North America as a whole,” said Hydro Production Manager Alan Cromell.  “And so some of the technology can only be seen in Europe and so in order to get then hands-on and ready for Cassopolis, yes, we did have to send a few to Norway, a few to Luxembourg and Spain in order to get ready to go here.