Mount Holly’s other aluminum company

The J.W. Aluminum mill in the Mount Holly area of Berkeley County makes flat-rolled aluminum, mostly from scrap metal. Its main customers include the construction, packaging and transportation industries. File/Staff

A manufacturer of flat-rolled aluminum for the construction and other industries is planning an expansion of its Goose Creek mill that will add about 50 jobs to its workforce.

JW Aluminum last week closed on $285 million in financing to help pay for an expansion at its 435 Old Mount Holly Road site. The company also will use the proceeds to pay off a $151 million loan.

A company spokeswoman on Monday declined to give specifics about plans for the site

In a news release, JW Aluminum said proceeds will be used to "modernize and refresh the company’s capacity at its Mount Holly operation, which will include the installation of proven, state-of-the-art equipment expected to result in substantial operating cost savings and additional production capacity."

The aluminum maker, going by the code name Project Boilermaker, is seeking tax breaks from Berkeley County and the city of Goose Creek. Berkeley County Council last week gave initial approval to an agreement that would allow JW Aluminum to pay a reduced fee instead of property taxes. That agreement states the company's investment in the expansion will be at least $270 million.

Expansion of the Goose Creek site will be done in at least two phases, according to a report by Moody's Investors Service, with start-up of the first phase expected in late 2020.

The notes that were sold last week were offered at a 10.25 percent interest rate, reflecting volatility in the industry and JW Aluminum's "small scale, high leverage, weak debt protection metrics and high capital requirements," Moody's said.

Moody's gave the debt a B-3 rating while Standard & Poor's rated it B-minus. Both ratings are in the "speculative" range, according to the firms. The notes were a private offering that was exempt from registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

JW Aluminum originally planned to enter the bond market in February, but delayed the sale due to turbulence in the stock markets and tepid demand, according to The Wall Street Journal.

JW Aluminum was founded in Goose Creek as Jim Walter Metals, a single-facility operations with 10 employees. The company currently makes rolled aluminum products for about 250 North American customers, primarily service the building and construction, air-conditioning and packaging and container markets.

In addition to the Goose Creek site, which also serves as the company's headquarters, JW Aluminum operates mills in St. Louis; Russellville, Ark.; and Williamsport, Pa. 

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_