Noranda to shut down final New Madrid pot line, file for bankruptcy

Noranda to shut down final New Madrid pot line, file for bankruptcy
Published: Feb. 8, 2016 at 3:04 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2016 at 10:52 PM CST
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NEW MADRID, MO (KFVS) - Noranda Aluminum announced it will shut down its third remaining pot line in New Madrid, Mo.

In conjunction, the company said on Monday, Feb. 8, it is filing for bankruptcy.

According to Noranda, work on the third primary pot line will continue until March 2016 and then operations will be reduced.

However, Noranda reports if business conditions improve, work could restart.

On January 8, 2016 the company experienced an electrical circuit failure that resulted in two of the smelter's three pot lines being idled.

As a result, Noranda announced on Jan. 13 it would lay off around 480 employees at its aluminum smelter in New Madrid by Thursday, Feb. 4.

No word yet on whether the third pot line closure will require more positions to be terminated.

Noranda also announced the company will voluntarily file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which calls for a court-supervised restructuring process.

According to the company, this would give Noranda additional time and financial flexibility to evaluate options for its various business operations.

Noranda's President and Chief Executive Officer Kip Smith released the following statement in reference to the latest cut back:

"In light of the challenging market conditions for the aluminum industry and the recent disruptions in our primary business operations, the Board and management team, with the support of our principal lenders, determined that undertaking this court-supervised process is in the best interests of Noranda and its stakeholders. We believe this court-supervised process will provide us with time and financial flexibility to evaluate options to enhance the sustainability of our major business operations."

Noranda expects to receive court approval for these requests shortly.

Upon approval by the court, Noranda said new financing, combined with cash generated from the company's ongoing operations, will be used to support the business during the court-supervised process.

For goods and services provided post-Chapter 11 filing, the company intends to pay suppliers in full under normal terms.

Warren Wood, vice president of external affairs and communications at Ameren Missouri released the following statement on Noranda:

"Ameren Missouri will continue to work with Noranda, legislators, and other stakeholders on a long-term legislative solution to support Noranda's operations. Ameren Missouri cares about the people working at Noranda and knows this company and its employees play an important role in sustaining the economy in the New Madrid, Missouri region."

Following the news of Noranda filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, members of the Southeast Missouri legislative delegation said they would work to keep one of the areas job creators in business.

State Reps. Tila Hubrecht, Andrew McDaniel, Holly Rehder and Don Rone said they are working with House Speaker Todd Richardson to explore every possible option.

"Right now every option is on the table and in discussion as we work together to prevent what would be a devastating blow to the economy of the Bootheel, and our state," said Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff. "I know Reps. Hubrecht, McDaniel, Rehder and Rone have been working diligently for months now to keep Noranda operational here in Missouri, and they have my full support as they do everything possible to save those jobs that mean so much to so many families."

The legislators said they were already working to find a solution that would help ease Noranda's operating costs so that it can afford to stay in business. They also said they have been in contact with both the offices of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and Congressman Jason Smith to discuss other possible solutions.

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