Alcoa announced Wednesday it will close one of the potlines at its Massena East plant.
In a news release, company officials said the line -- one of three at the plant -- will be closed permanently by the end of September.
The potline represents 40,000 metric tons of Alcoa's aluminum smelting capacity. Another 124,000 metric tons will be temporarily halted at the company's plants in Brazil.
Alcoa officials started reviewing how to cut the company's smelting capacity in May as a way to remain competitive.
“Aluminum prices, including premiums, have fallen to four-year lows and we continue to operate in an uncertain, volatile market,” said Bob Wilt, president of Alcoa’s Global Primary Products.
Wilt added that the company will work with the affected communities to minimize the impact of the shutdowns and cutbacks.
Alcoa spokesperson Laurie Marr says no layoffs are anticipated and work on a planned modernization of the plant will continue.
There are a total of 1,200 workers at Alcoa's Massena operations, of which 360 work in the Massena East plant, 260 of them hourly employees.
"I am confident that Alcoa is committed to long-term investment and expansion in Massena. Knowing how exceptional the Alcoa workforce is, and the low-cost power contract with NYPA, I hope Alcoa will increase capacity in Massena when the aluminum market improves," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D. - NY).
"While I am disappointed by this situation, I am happy Alcoa is going forward with their recently begun expansion project. I am hopeful today's news will not result in layoffs and that the expansion will ultimately increase employment in Northern New York," said north country Congressman Bill Owens (D. - 21st District).
Alcoa officials broke ground in July on phase one of the plan to modernize the plant. That plan is expected to cost $600 million and save about 1,000 jobs.
At the time, the ground breaking was widely portrayed as ensuring Alcoa's future in Massena. Less widely noted, however, was the fact that the company only committed to the first part of the modernization project.
7 News reporter John Friot reports the company will make a "final" decision on the full $600 million project in 2015.
Alcoa operates two plants in Massena. It purchased the east plant from Reynold Metals several years ago. It's about 10 miles east of Massena.
Alcoa has announced closures or curtailments representing 269,000 metric tons of the 460,000 metric tons placed under review in May.
This includes the permanent closure of 105,000 metric tons of capacity announced earlier at Alcoa’s Baie-Comeau smelter in Canada and another 44,000 permanently closed at its Fusina, Italy smelter that was not part of the original review.
Once the Massena and Brazil closures and curtailments are complete, Alcoa will have 16 percent, or 646,800 metric tons, of smelting capacity idle.
Sunday, September 25, 2016, Watertown, NY
On Wall Street