Chicago firm may purchase Ormet plant equipment

HANNIBAL, Ohio – While officials with the United Steelworkers maintain hope that someone will purchase the closed Ormet Corp. smelter with intentions of operating it, published reports show Chicago-based Century Aluminum Co. may purchase equipment and raw materials from the bankrupt company.

As 42 maintenance workers still at Ormet wait to learn if they will join about 900 other employees who lost their jobs last year, USW Local 5724 President Tom Byers said he believes someone is trying to purchase the entire facility. In February, Ormet officials announced intentions to sell the reduction plant that sits between the Ohio River and Ohio Route 7 in Monroe County. This was roughly one year after the company filed for bankruptcy amid a business environment that included falling aluminum prices and escalating American Electric Power bills.

According to its website, Century Aluminum owns a facility in Ravenswood, W.Va. However, company officials said they curtailed operations there in the midst of efforts to acquire competitively priced power.

Similarly, Ormet closed in October following negotiations with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and American Electric Power, in which Ormet wanted the PUCO to lower Ormet’s AEP costs from $60 to $45.89 per megawatt-hour.

In addition to the Ravenswood facility, Century maintains operations in Kentucky, South Carolina and Iceland.

“We have seen continuing progress in fundamental industry conditions,” Michael Bless, president and CEO of Century, said. “Demand development in key end markets in the U.S. and in Europe is supportive of premiums for our value-added products. These conditions are backstopped by reasonable economic growth and job creation in these regions.”

While Ormet faces an uncertain future, the company continues selling off raw materials to help pay off debts.