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An Alcoa aluminum plant worker

Alcoa Permanently Closes Southern Indiana Smelting Operations

Jan. 8, 2016
The latest operations closing for the aluminum giant is in line with numerous similar moves during the last year. ... A tough week for Northeast Ohio steel mills.

Alcoa pointed a finger toward the plummeting price of aluminum when it announced Thursday that it will permanently close its Warrick County smelting operations, about two hours southwest of Louisville.

The aluminum giant launched a yearlong review of its smelting and refining operations in March, curtailing or closing operations in New York, Texas, Washington, Brazil and now southern Indiana.

“Although our employees have worked diligently through these challenging market conditions, the aluminum smelter at Warrick Operations is no longer competitive,” John Martin, the company’s vice president of U.S. smelting operations, said.

Martin noted that the price of aluminum has dropped about 30% in the last year, and said the company’s “focus now is on our employees.” The price drop for the raw material alumina, about 40% during the same stretch, was also cited as a major factor.

Tough Week for Northeast Ohio Steel

Republic Steel and United States Steel also announced various cuts this week. Republic Steel said it will be idling its rolling mill operations at its steel mill in Lorain, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. U.S. Steel said its Lorain plant will be working just two weeks through the end of March.

“We hope that we can resume the Lorain operations in the near future,” Republic Steel president and CEO Jaime Vigil told The Morning Journal. “We are positioned for growth and will be ready to provide capacity once the market turns around.”

The workforces at both of the Lorain plants have shrunk drastically during the last two years. Republic Steel started 2014 with between 600 and 650 workers at that plant, and now has 314. U.S. Steel counted more than 1,300 just 12 months ago and now counts 637, with just 337 working this week.

About the Author

Matt LaWell | Staff Writer

Staff writer Matt LaWell explores news in manufacturing technology, covering the trends and developments in automation, robotics, digital tools and emerging technologies. He also reports on the best practices of the most successful high tech companies, including computer, electronics, and industrial machinery and equipment manufacturers.

Matt joined IndustryWeek in 2015 after six years at newspapers and magazines in West Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, a season on the road with his wife writing about America and minor league baseball, and three years running a small business. He received his bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University.

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