The Scottish economy received a £330m boost today after steel tycoon Sanjeev Gupta agreed to buy Britain's last remaining aluminium smelter.
Liberty House and Simec – both part of the GFG Alliance – agreed to buy the hydro-powered plant in Fort William from Rio Tinto, safeguarding 170 jobs and promising to directly generate 300 more.
The jobs boost comes as part of the deal where the new owners will invest £120m to also upgrade equipment and establish an aluminium wheel manufacturing facility. A further 300 more jobs are expected to be created in the supply-chain as a result of new investment.
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the news signalled an "historic day" for the Highlands plant and revealed the Scottish government had guaranteed the power purchases of the aluminium smelter.
The guarantee was proof, according to Liberty executive chairman Gupta, that "the Scottish Government has recognised the immense opportunity this investment brings. Their support has been refreshing and inspiring."
"Today is the start of an exciting new chapter in Scotland’s manufacturing story," said Surgeon. "The Scottish government and its agencies will keep working with Sanjeev Gupta and the GFG Alliance to help them realise their enterprising vision for Lochaber."
"We hope this day will come to be recognised as the start of a bright new future for Highland industry. It puts Lochaber right at the heart of our vision for sustainable and integrated local production that can revitalise British manufacturing," added Gupta.