Century Aluminum Considers Closing Kentucky Smelter

Company says it needs a more favorable electric power rate.

April 25, 2013
Recycling Today Staff

Century Aluminum Co., Monterey, Calif., has issued a conditional notice to employees of its Hawesville, Ky., aluminum smelter of its intent to close the plant on Aug. 20, 2013, if it is unable to secure a new power contract.

The announcement was made by the Century Aluminum of Kentucky subsidiary in compliance with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).

The WARN notice specifies that the plant will be closed down unless the company can gain access to what it says is competitively priced electrical power. If a new rate can’t be obtained, the company will shut its smelter, which has a rated capacity of 244,000 metric tons of primary aluminum per year, when its current power contract with Big Rivers Electric Corp. expires.

Century Aluminum also gave conditional notice that it will terminate a supply contract with its largest customer, Southwire Co., Carrollton, Ga., if it closes the plant. That notice also is effective Aug. 20.

“Hawesville is an excellent plant, with a dedicated and highly skilled workforce and a world class customer base," says Michael Bless, president and CEO of Century Aluminum. “We deeply regret the need to issue these notices at this time, and understand the uncertainty this action will cause our valued employees, our local communities and our longstanding partners at Southwire."

Bless continues, “We remain resolved to finding a solution that will support the plant's continuing operations, and are discussing with the power provider an arrangement that we firmly believe will have no impact on any other ratepayer in the state, today or in the future.

“That said, time is running short and, without a prompt agreement, we will call upon the elected leaders of the Commonwealth to intervene with a solution to avoid the catastrophic economic impact a plant closure would have on countless communities in western Kentucky,” adds Bless.