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Aluminum giant Alcoa Inc. (AA - Analyst Report) broke ground on a $275 million expansion of its Tennessee operations. This is Alcoa’s second U.S. automotive expansion to meet increasing demand for light, durable and recyclable aluminum sheet for auto production.

Once the expansion is complete by mid-2015, Alcoa expects to create 200 full time jobs. Moreover, an additional 400 construction jobs are expected to be created while the construction is in progress.  The previously announced expansion will convert some of the plant’s can sheet capacity to high-strength automotive aluminum capacity, as well as install increased automotive capacity, making it a major supplier to both the packaging and automotive markets.

The Tennessee expansion represents Alcoa’s second major automotive expansion in North America. The first one was a $300 million expansion of Alcoa’s Davenport, Iowa, plant which is expected to be complete by end of 2013 and has already begun commissioning.

As part of the Tennessee expansion, the company also announced a $50,000 Alcoa Foundation grant to The East Tennessee Historical Society for organizing an exhibition to create awareness of the evolution of manufacturing with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It is intended to support career options in manufacturing for students and teachers across East Tennessee and help cement the manufacturing skills gap.

Alcoa, a prominent player in the mining industry along with Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (ACH), Atlatsa Resources Corporation (ATL - Snapshot Report) and BHP Billiton Limited (BHP - Analyst Report), is a world leader in production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum, and alumina. The company is also the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina.

Alcoa currently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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