Intermet Corporation, a manufacturer of cast-metal automotive components, has announced that it plans to build and operate a ductile iron foundry in Mexico. This new plant will be located in the Monterrey area and will be dedicated to the production of automotive structural and safety components such as steering knuckles, control arms, and brake calipers and brackets, as well as other highly engineered ductile-iron parts.

Construction of the 100,000-square-foot greenfield plant is expected to begin before the end of the year and be operational by mid-2004. Plans call for two casting lines featuring vertical, flaskless molding, along with medium-frequency induction furnace melting, a complete coldbox coremaking operation, and highly automated casting finishing and validation. At full production, annual revenue for the plant is expected to reach approximately $40 million, with the potential for expansion in either ductile iron or Intermet's 'Blue Sand' aluminium casting process, which also is focused on structural components.

"The location of a casting operation in Mexico represents a critical step in Intermet's global expansion plan," said Gary F. Ruff, Intermet's President and CEO. "This state-of-the-science facility also fits well into our LASIK Vision strategy since it will utilise existing assets to minimise the cost and time for production startup. In addition, we believe the new foundry will fill a demand in the Mexican cast-metal industry for safety-critical components supported by the full-service capabilities of Intermet in research, development, engineering and design."

Intermet Vice President Jesus M. Bonilla added: "Mexico is a major player in the global automotive industry. A number of automotive OEMs and system/module suppliers have assembly facilities there, but currently must import cast components to support their operations. With our new facility, Intermet will be positioned to effectively serve our customer base. The site location in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, places the plant in a region close to our major customers, near transportation routes, and provides a workforce skilled in the manufacturing and technical abilities needed for our industry."