Second-largest aluminum plant in US shuts down due to ‘unsustainable’ energy prices, causing 600 American workers to be laid off

The second-largest aluminum plant in the United States has shut down operations, laying off about 600 American workers due to “unsustainable” electricity and energy prices.

In June, Century Aluminum Co.’s executives announced. suggested they shut down the aluminum plant in Hawesville, Kentucky for about 9 to 12 months due to skyrocketing prices just to keep the plant’s lights on.

Likewise, executives with two steel plants are suspending operations because they cannot afford the energy costs to keep the plants open. This comes after executives warned federal regulators about debilitating energy prices months ago.

Bloomberg reported:

on June 22, 600 workers at America’s second-largest aluminum plant, accounting for 20% of U.S. supply, found they were losing their jobs because the plant can’t afford an electricity subscription that has tripled in a matter of months. Century Aluminum Co. says it will shut down its Hawesville, Kentucky, plant for a year and shut down the largest of its three U.S. facilities. A shutdown like this could last up to a month as workers gently swirl the molten metal into the storage so it doesn’t solidify in pipes and barrels and turn the entire facility into a useless rock. Rebooting will take another six to nine months. For this reason, owners do not stop their activities until they have exhausted all other options. [Emphasis added]

At least two steel mills have started suspending some activities to reduce energy costs, according to an industry executive, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public. In May, a group of factories in the US Midwest warned federal energy regulators that some were about to close for the summer or longer because of what they described as “unjust and unreasonable” electricity costs. They asked to be completely exempted from some electricity charges – a request that, if granted, would be unprecedented. [Emphasis added]

During an earnings call this week, the CEO of Century Aluminum Co. Jesse Gary said the temporary shutdown of Hawesville—which resulted in the layoffs of about 600 American workers—was the result of “unsustainable” energy prices.

“Increased energy prices also resulted in an unfortunate decision to curtail our operations in Hawesville,” said Gary:

Although this decision was difficult, it was necessary given the relatively high energy consumption of the Hawesville smelter technology and the lack of value-added foundries, which made the financial economy of running the smelter unsustainable at these energy prices. The containment was conducted in a manner that will allow for the smelter to restart if and when market conditions return to more normal accommodative levels. [Emphasis added]

Similarly, in July, Alcoa Corporation announced “it will begin the process of immediately curtailing one of its three operational melt lines” at its Warrick, Indiana facility.

This comes after Alcoa closed Warrick Operations’ smelter under the Obama administration in 2016 due to cheap, subsidized Chinese aluminum flows in the US market. Those operations were later reopened in 2017 under the Trump administration.

The energy sector is also heading for major layoffs and factory closures.

At least six coal plants in Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska and New Mexico are expected to shut down by 2026. Some plan to close as early as 2024, leaving thousands of Americans fired and out of work.

Radical environmentalists from the Sierra Group have long celebrated the shutdown of coal plants and the loss of Americans’ jobs. According to the organization, nearly 360 coal-fired power plants have been closed or are in the process of formwork in recent years, while about 170 are still in operation.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here.

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