The Portland Aluminium project began in March 1979 when Alcoa of Australia announced plans to build a second smelter in Victoria.  These plans were subject to environmental and other approvals, and the negotiation of a satisfactory long-term arrangement for the supply of electricity.
Portland was selected as the site for the new smelter as it was environmentally suitable, had access to deep-water port facilities and an adequate workforce was available from the town and surrounding districts.
Construction of the smelter began in 1981 following approval of a detailed environmental study and other surveys.  The project was halted about 18 months later due to world economic conditions and uncertainty over the long-term price of power for the smelter.  On 31 July 1984, following two years of intensive negotiations, Alcoa and the government of Victoria announced that the project would proceed as a joint venture – Alcoa taking 60 per cent equity and the Government 40 per cent. Under the arrangement, equity was still available to other parties.
In September 1985, First National Resource Trust (which then became Eastern Australia Limited) purchased a 10 per cent share in the project reducing the Alcoa share to 55 per cent and the Government share to 35 per cent.  Eastern Australia Limited was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange which gave the public an opportunity to invest in the project.
Production at the smelter began at the ‘Portland Smelter Services’ plant in October 1986.   
In January 1987, the first shipment of aluminium from the smelter was loaded on to the Sri Lankan registered Kandy, bound for Japan and Taiwan. 
The smelter was officially opened by then Victorian Premier, John Cain in February 1987.
In March 1990, Portland Smelter Services began to trade under the name Portland Aluminium, and in January 1991, the smelter cast its one millionth tonne of aluminium.  This milestone equated to around $2 billion in export dollars for Australia and a huge injection of growth within the local community and the state.
In August 1998, the Victorian Government sold its share in Portland Aluminium to current partners China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) and Marubeni Corporation. 
In July 1999, EcoRecycle presented Portland Aluminium with Waste Wise certification in recognition of the smelter’s waste minimisation efforts.  Over a ten year period, the smelter had achieved a reduction in waste from 13,000 cubic meters a year to just 20 cubic meters a year.
In January 2004, Portland Aluminium cast its 5 millionth tonne of aluminium, and in December that year the production of alloy A356.2 ingot commenced.
October 2006 marked Portland Aluminium’s 20th year of operations, and celebrated with a variety of community and employee recognition events.
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