Burnside alumina plant in danger of closing again
BURNSIDE - More than a year after announcing plans to reopen an idled alumina plant in Ascension Parish, Ormet Corporation announced today they could layoff many of the plant's 250 workers or even close it.
Ormet said a recent Ohio public utilities ruling not to exempt the company's aluminum smelting operations from a higher electric rate would cost them millions more dollars per year. The company said the ruling forced them to significantly reduce their Ohio operations, and seek other alternatives. The plant in Burnside supplies the smelter with alumina.
Notices sent to the Ascension Parish plant's 250 workers warned them the plant could see layoffs or even closure in the next 60 days. The notices are required before a company closes a plant or lays off more than 50 workers.
"We are still hopeful that we can all find short and longer term solutions to the substantial increase in our power costs and save these jobs." said Mike Tanchuk, Ormet's CEO.
Last year, Louisiana Economic Development estimated the plant would create 1,300 permanent new direct and indirect jobs.
"The extent and duration of the curtailment of operations will be strongly dependent upon the progress with Ormet's power contract negotiations in Ohio," said LED Secretary Stephen Moret today. "We reached out to our counterparts in Ohio to emphasize that a successful resolution to power contract negotiations in Ohio would assure uninterrupted operations of both facilities, as well as the preservation of hundreds of existing jobs in both states."
Ormet originally closed the plant after failing demand, high natural gas prices and other market issues. It restarted the plant late last year.