Century Aluminum of South Carolina Inc. of Mount Holly, South Carolina will operate at half-capacity through a recent agreement with power provider Santee Cooper.
The agreement is still pending, waiting for approval from Century's and Santee
Cooper's boards of directors. The need to decrease capacity was due to the recent layoffs of a significant number of Century's employees at the Mount Holly location.
"Our relief at reaching this point is tempered because 300 of our people are being laid off," Michael Bless, Century president and CEO, said "Mt. Holly is a family and we are saddened that we were left with no choice but to make this decision. Our employees are responsible for making Mount Holly the best, most-efficient aluminum smelter in the country and we will expend all efforts to return them to their jobs."
Bless said he is hopeful a long-term solution can be reached. "We agreed to this arrangement at the request of many of our local legislators in order to allow them to seek a legislative remedy," he said. "Although this will result in our continuing to operate under an uncompetitive power arrangement in the short-term, we owe it to our employees, the community and the state to do this in order to save a plant with an economic impact of nearly $1 billion per year. Ultimately, any solution must ensure the long-term competitiveness of this plant. We hope to bring back our employees who have been laid off as quickly as possible."
The agreement will save about 300 jobs. It would be for three years, but could be terminated by Century at any time during the term with 60 days notice. Century officials will be working with legislators to attempt to come up with a solution to bring the plant back to full capacity and restore the jobs of the workers who have been laid off.