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Ash Grove shuts down production at nine plants

World Cement,

Ash Grove Cement Company has announced lay-offs and temporary closures at nine of its ten plants across the US.

A US presence
Ash Grove, the country’s largest American-owned cement manufacturer, is feeling the pinch as the economy continues to tighten its belt. Despite having continued to operate relatively normally so far this year, while many other cement companies have implemented temporary shutdowns, the economy has caught up with Ash Grove and substantial staff-cuts are being made.

Having celebrated 80 years in Nebraska just a week ago by dedicating a new 14 000 square ft. office building in the company of local and state officials, this week Ash Grove has had to let go 87 of its 138 employees at its Louisville plant starting from 21 December. Ash Grove has called the shutdown temporary, but so far there are no projections as to when the employees will be back to work.

Montana City
For some of the staff at the Montana City plant, this is the second time this year they have been sent home. In March there was an asbestos scare at the plant’s Clark Gulch quarry during which 57 employees were sent home for several weeks while tests were undertaken to determine whether the quarry was safe. This time around, 50 of the plant’s 79 employees will be laid off starting around 30 November. The plant’s management is hopeful that production will resume in the spring, when construction demand generally picks up.

At the Durkee plant in Eastern Oregon, 68 of 115 employees will be laid off. The future of this plant was already in doubt, having hit the headlines more than once in recent months as the biggest mercury emitter in the state. Last year, the company struck a voluntary agreement with the Department of Environmental Quality to cut emissions by 75% and construction has since begun on US$20 million-worth of mercury control equipment that would enable the plant to meet that target. However, since then the EPA has proposed more stringent mercury emission limits, which the plant claims it will be impossible to meet, and would therefore have forced the plant to close. The final decision on mercury limits will be made next year, and in the meantime the workers must way to see whether an economic recovery is imminent that would make it a plant worth saving.

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