Alcoa shuts down smelter, blames utility costs

ROCKDALE, TEXAS - Wheel manufacturer Alcoa is extinguishing operations at its Rockdale, Texas aluminum smelter, citing uncompetitive costs for the power needed to operate the facility and overall market conditions.

In June, the company idled three of the plantÂ’s six operating potlines representing about 120,000 metric tons of production per year as a result of the unspecified local utility issues.

Some 660 employees will be laid-off in addition to about 160 workers who were shown the door in June. The company will continue to operate its aluminum atomizer in Rockdale as well as its anode operations there, employing a 140 people. Layoffs at the facility will be implemented in a phased process, with the majority of the reductions occurring toward the end of November and in early December. Additionally, Alcoa will adjust alumina production accordingly.

“When we initially curtailed half of our aluminum production in Rockdale,” notes John Thuestad, president of Alcoa’s U.S. Primary Products division, “we said it would be extremely challenging to try to be competitive operating only half of the plant.

“Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of operating only half of the smelter, well-known issues regarding the cost and long-term reliability of the power supply in Rockdale, and current market conditions, has forced us to make this difficult decision.”


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