IMCO Recycling plans to double capacity at its Saginaw, Michigan, aluminium alloys plant to about 280 million pounds annually to boost shipments to General Motors.

According to Reuters, IMCO said the expansion was a move to increase its participation in the transportation sector, the aluminium market's largest and fastest-growing segment.

The two companies agreed to the boost in volume in a recently signed amendment to a 13-year contract announced in 1999, IMCO said in a statement cited by the news agency which added that the plant is expected to start ramping up capacity by the end of 2004.

IMCO spokesman Paul Dufour told Reuters that the plant's capacity in total will be around 280 million pounds of aluminium alloy products, solely produced for GM.

IMCO chairman and CEO Don Ingram reportedly said in the statement, "With this new supply requirement, IMCO will add additional melting, processing and environmental equipment at our Saginaw plant in order to provide the increased alloys shipments."

GM and other carmakers are increasing their use of aluminium to minimise vehicles' weight while maintaining their size, IMCO reportedly said, "thus satisfying customer preferences while reducing fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions."

Aluminum-intensive vehicles provide better acceleration, braking, and handling, IMCO said, according to Reuters.

The company reportedly noted that in North America over the past 12 years, the use of aluminium has doubled in cars and tripled in SUVs, light trucks and minivans.

Reuters noted that IMCO Recycling, headquartered in Irving, Texas, is one of the world's largest recyclers of aluminium and zinc and has 21 plants in the United States and five international plants located in Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Wales.