RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. — Jackson County’s largest employer will make high-dollar investments into the future of their facilities.

Constellium unveiled a partnership Monday with the U.S. Department of Energy which will enable the replacement of three aging and obsolete casthouses in the mill at Ravenswood. They’ll be upgraded to two state-of-the-art casters. The new casters will implement the most modern fuel technology available.

“It’s breakthrough technology to allow our combustion systems to be fueled by virtually any type of material, including when it becomes affordable and available, hydrogen. It will make us a carbon-free casting environment,” said Brian McCallie, vice president of operations for Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood.

According to McCallie the new casting lines will replace three lines which were installed in the 1950s. The new casters will start out fueled by natural gas, but will be able to convert to hydrogen as a fuel when it’s available. The first line is expected to be ready by the middle of 2026 and the second line will be in place in early 2028.

“Our R and D center in France has piloted the technology at its facility and we’re going to take it into production environment here in the United States,” McCallie said.

The project will receive an up to $75 Million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to be matched by a company contribution of the same amount. The money becomes available through the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year by Congress. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin was one of those who helped craft the legislation. Manchin was on hand Monday for the announcement.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin

“Ravenswood’s aluminum industry started here in 1957 and helped drive the economy of this town for generations. But, as the people of this community know, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing,” Manchin said in a statement. “The people of West Virginia and Ravenswood have sacrificed for generations to provide the energy and raw materials our nation needed to become the greatest industrial might the world has ever seen. I am proud that this $75 million investment will continue that legacy and help to grow the aluminum industry in Ravenswood while bringing new economic opportunity to the entire Mountain State.”

Along with the modernized casting lines, the investment package presented to the Department of Energy called for added amenities to the community and workforce. McCallie said there would be investments into a new child care center on site, a training and wellness facility for employees, and the company will make investments into local schools and colleges to help with development of programs to encourage students to go into STEM fields of study.

The Ravenswood plant currently employs 1,100 workers. Although a few will be added with the childcare and wellness centers, the investments aren’t expected to create very many new jobs. However, McCallie said the upgrades would protect the current jobs going forward. He added there are inclusions in the plan which will make the operation prime for expansion in the future.

“With the two new casting centers, we’ll get additional capacity for ingot casting. That means we’ll need more metal input. That essentially means we need more scrap and metal moved into the plant and that will give us room for expansion,” he explained.