There's a few line story in the news today. It seems Wilbur Ross will be braying at Century Aluminum in Kentucky on Wednesday; a smelter is re-opening idled lines. The Manchurian President wants credit. Recall the first entry in what is now a series: the USofA has little iron ore and virtually no bauxite (in global resource terms).
IF YOU DON'T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON'T HAVE A COUNTRY!
-- The Manchurian President/2018
Of course, that's pure nonsense. In the financialized economy of the 1%, national steel and aluminum are completely irrelevant.
Now, you can't have steel, or aluminum, without the source ores. It's not a case of 'where there's a will there's a way'. Yeah gotta have ore. And for aluminum, lots o electrons.
Alcoa, formerly the Aluminum Company of America, and another American company, Century Aluminum, have opened factories like this in Iceland, and closed factories in the United States, for a simple reason: Electricity is much cheaper here.
Bauxite may be mined and refined in Jamaica, shipped to northern Quebec for smelting, then hammered into car parts in Alcoa, Tenn.
Cheap electricity is what supports smelting aluminum; it requires prodigious amounts of leetle electrons to turn ore into metal. That Kentucky smelter exists because of the TVA.
In Washington state, for instance, the smelters that used to operate near the hydroelectric power plants along the Columbia River have been priced out by the power-chugging server farms of tech companies such as Microsoft.
Aluminum has been called "solid electricity" because of the amount used to make it (13,500 to 17,000 kWh per ton). That's why most of the aluminum smelters were built where the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bonneville Power Authority could deliver cheap hydroelectric power.
So, a huge Pyrrhic victory for jingoism. Swell.