350 more Noranda employees to be laid off by Thursday

Noranda to lay off 480 employees total by Feb. 4

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.

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.

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

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.