Major Aluminum Manufacturer Shuts Down

The Century Aluminum plant in Hawesville, Kentucky, is shutting down production due to rising energy costs.

In a statement, the company says the plant idling is the "direct result of skyrocketing energy costs," specifically blaming the Russian war in Ukraine for the dramatic increase.

The production stoppage will impact some 628 workers, who will be laid off at the second-largest employer in the area, according to the Messenger-Inquirer.

The company will close the smelter for nine to 12 months, beginning Monday, until energy prices return to normal levels. The company only gave employees about three days' notice, informing them of the closure last Wednesday. 

According to the company, the plant is its largest U.S. smelter and the largest producer of high-purity aluminum in North America. The aluminum is used extensively in the defense industry as well as in aerospace applications. For example, it's used in F16s, naval war vessels, Boeing 747s and even the International Space Station.

As recently as last week, the company was increasing production and hiring, but power problems brought everything to a halt.

According to Jesse Gary, president and CEO of Century Aluminum, power costs have more than tripled the historical average in a very short period. However, he remains confident that the smelter could re-open once prices stabilize. Still, the company gave no assurance that the plant will re-open after the shutdown.

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