350 more Noranda employees to be laid off by Thursday - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

350 more Noranda employees to be laid off by Thursday

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    Friday, January 15 2016 4:38 PM EST2016-01-15 21:38:22 GMT
    Friday, January 15 2016 4:38 PM EST2016-01-15 21:38:22 GMT
    The Missouri Department of Economic Development has scheduled a resource/job fair on Feb. 5 for Noranda workers affected by the upcoming layoffs.  

    The Missouri Department of Economic Development has scheduled a resource/job fair on Feb. 5 for Noranda workers affected by the upcoming layoffs.  

NEW MADRID, MO (KFVS) -

Noranda has announced it will lay off around 480 employees at its aluminum smelter in New Madrid by Thursday, Feb. 4.

The company announced a workforce reduction involving about 190 employees. At New Madrid, that includes 130 positions. Their last day was Friday, Jan. 15.

In addition to those layoffs, the company said up to 350 employees will be terminated or laid off at the New Madrid smelter by Feb. 4. That number included early and regular retirement numbers.

Noranda employs a total of 930 people at the New Madrid plant.

According to the company, the layoffs are in response to continued low aluminum prices, the idling of two pot lines at the company's aluminum smelter in New Madrid, Mo., and other business issues affecting the "upstream operations."

"These actions reflect our intense focus on managing cash and available liquidity in a especially challenging business environment for our integrated upstream business," said Layla K. "Kip" Smith, Noranda's president and chief executive officer. "While managing through an extended aluminum price trough, our upstream business has recently faced additional operational and commercial challenges. These challenges include the idling of two pot lines at New Madrid, an unfavorable arbitration panel ruling regarding a bauxite production levy in Jamaica, and the bankruptcy filing by our principal third party bauxite customer. While the actions we've announced today are difficult, they are a necessary response to our current challenges as we proactively pursue other measures to reduce our costs in the upstream business."

The first round of 190 layoffs were planned prior to the Jan. 7 electrical circuit failure that resulted in two of the smelter's three pot lines being idled, according to the company.

They say the additional 350 layoffs became necessary after the smelter incident.

Smelter employees were also notified that the site's remaining operations will stop on or before March 12 unless the company is able to get a lower power rate for the smelter and improve the company's overall liquidity.

According to Noranda, the New Madrid plant provides one-third of the tax money supporting New Madrid schools.

Missouri Senator Wayne Wallingford posted the following on his Facebook page on Friday, January 15:

"My thoughts and prayers are with all the families who will be impacted by the layoffs at Noranda’s New Madrid facility. I will be working with my fellow lawmakers to explore ways that we can protect these jobs and help the workers impacted by these layoffs. This plant is one of the largest employers in Southeast Missouri, and the jobs at the smelter help to promote other jobs throughout the region. It is also important on a national level as one of only four remaining aluminum smelters in the United States.

While lower aluminum prices and other issues did contribute to this situation, the Public Service Commission is partly to blame, as they denied a reasonable reduction in the utility rate for one of our largest employers. This is yet another example of bureaucracy standing in the way of our economy."

Later on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Wallingford released this statement:

"These layoffs are a tremendous blow to our region’s economy, and my thoughts are with all the families who will be impacted. Resuming full production at the New Madrid facility should be everyone’s goal, and I will be working with Sen. Doug Libla, Rep. Don Rone and the Department of Economic Development to explore ways to help the workers impacted by these layoffs.

The Noranda plant is one of the largest employers in the region, and the jobs at the facility help to support other jobs in communities throughout Southeast Missouri. The New Madrid facility is also of national importance, as it is one of only four remaining smelters in the United States.  The Public Service Commission is partly to blame for these layoffs, as they chose to put monopoly utility companies ahead of workers and denied a reasonable reduction in the utility rate for one of our region’s largest employers.  I will continue to stand up against bureaucratic policies that harm Missouri workers, and during the coming months I will be working with my fellow lawmakers to explore ways to correct this situation.”

Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation is a leading North American integrated producer of value-added primary aluminum products, as well as rolled aluminum coils.

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