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Thursday, May 23, 2024


July 6, 2001 – The Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) announced Friday that it will permanently close its St. Croix Alumina plant, which it shut down indefinitely at the end of January.
About 350 workers were laid off when Pittsburgh-based Alcoa placed its subsidiary, St. Croix Alumina, on standby early this year. Company officials said at the time that operations had been suspended at the refinery because its output was not immediately needed.
The refinery has the capacity to produce 600,000 tons of alumina a year. About 25 workers were kept on to maintain the facility.
Alumina, a white powdery material, is an intermediate product from bauxite ore that is used to make aluminum. The St. Croix plant refines bauxite, aluminum's principal raw material, into alumina through a chemical process.
In its second-quarter earnings report, released Friday, Alcoa stated that special charges of $212 million are part of a review to "optimize assets and lower costs." Part of the company’s charges -– $179 million -– includes the cost of closing the St. Croix alumina refinery and its smelter in Suriname.
The refinery has been idle since Jan. 31. The smelter, with a capacity of 30,000 tons per year, had been idle since March 1999. The charges also include the closing of a chemical plant in Louisiana which has been idle since last December.
The refinery, smelter and chemical plant are part of Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals, which is 60-percent owned by Alcoa.
Company officials said economic and competitive conditions forced the closings. Alcoa spokesperson Bonita Cersosimo referred questions about closing details to the local refinery. However, telephone calls to the St. Croix office went unanswered Friday.
Before the temporary shutdown early this year, the refinery had previously been closed down in 1995 because of market conditions. At that point, the company phased out 390 of 450 jobs and placed the plant on standby. It reopened in December 1997.
St. Croix Alumina produced about 450,000 tons of alumina last year for Alcoa-operated smelters in the United States.
With more than 180 operating locations in 28 countries, Alcoa is the world's largest aluminum company. It is also the world's largest alumina producer.

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