HANNIBAL - Ormet Corp. plans to return to full production in early March with a full complement of workers.
Mike Tanchuk, president and chief executive officer, said Ormet restarted the fifth of the six potlines at its Hannibal Primary Aluminum Reduction Plant in early January. Now employees are working to restart the sixth.
Plans call for it to be "energized" with the necessary electrical supply late this month and to bring it back online in March - returning the plant back to its fill production capacity.
Ormet Corp. plans to return to full production in early March with a full complement of workers and five of six potlines operating.
This increase in production also means the Hannibal site again has a complete work force. Tanchuk said the corporation brought in about 140 additional employees in anticipation of bringing the fifth and sixth potlines back online, including about 60 people who previously had been laid off. He said the plant now employs "a little over 1,000."
"Right now, the performance of the plant is better than it's been in its history," Tanchuk said regarding its personnel and union relations with the corporation. "The relationship is very strong and positive."
Tanchuk added the employees already in place will be a sufficient number to bring the sixth potline back to production, noting it "takes time" to return the massive lines to operation. The reduction system is comprised of enormous "pots" that heat and reduce alumina to its basic elements.
Aluminum production is an electrolytic process that requires the plant to use a lot of electricity - "as much as a city," according to Tanchuk. This means increased production at Ormet is good for other industries in the local area, including coal mines and coal-burning power plants.
In addition, Tanchuk pointed out growth at Ormet equates to increased impact on the community. He said tax revenue from the plant to local governments will increase, as will the number of indirect support jobs, which he estimated at three for every one job inside the plant. He said these support jobs include restaurant workers, hospital staff and others who provide services to those who hold the "good-paying jobs" at Ormet.
Tanchuk estimated the fifth and sixth potlines will allow the facility to produce an additional 80,000 metric tons of aluminum this year. In 2012, with all potlines expected to be in full operation for the entire year, he said this amount would increase to an additional 90,000 metric tons.
"While this is a very small amount of aluminum on a worldwide scale, this step is important to Ormet," Tanchuk previously said.
The aluminum industry as a whole is experiencing a turnaround. Ormet has been able to weather the recession because it secured long-term commitments from buyers not only to purchase certain volumes of Ormet's products, but also to pay a predetermined price for them.
The potline restart comes more than a year after the Monroe County aluminum producer warned the entire facility was in danger of closing until the company secured supplies to keep four of the plant's six potlines running. At that time, 100 jobs were lost at the facility.