Subscribe for 99¢
Aluminum smelting at Noranda in New Madrid, Mo

The Noranda aluminum smelting plant in New Madrid, Mo. as seen on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Photo By David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Noranda Aluminum said and it was able to keep its Southeast Missouri smelter in operation following a small explosion near one of its electric transformers Thursday morning.

There were no injuries in the 9:15 a.m. explosion and subsequent fire, which Noranda spokesman John Parker said were the result of a transformer failure. The fire occurred outside of the factory in the transformer yard. 

It is expensive and potentially dangerous to restart aluminum production after a smelter loses electricity and the molten aluminum baths cool. The company said it has built redundancies in its electric infrastructure in recent years that allowed the plant to return “to stable production shortly after the incident.”

Noranda is the largest electricity consumer in the state, and it is currently battling with Ameren Missouri for a lower electric rate. It has also filed a case with state regulators accusing the utility of overearning.

Get updates every weekday morning about the latest news in the St. Louis business community.