Magnitude 7 Metals to reopen old Noranda aluminum smelter, create 450 jobs

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Photo by Scott Seal

“We are bringing back today over 450 jobs with an average wage of over $64,000 a year,” said Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. The governor along with several others attended the announcement of the opening of Magnitude 7 Metals aluminum smelter in Marston.

“After the closure of the aluminum smelter in Marston, hundreds of people worked with us to send a clear message: They don’t want welfare. They want to work. They want to bring back American jobs,” said Governor Eric Greitens. “We all fought hard to pass a bill to help us compete for these jobs and advanced manufacturing jobs around the state. Today, jobs are coming back and good people will be going back to work. This announcement is the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. I’m proud to welcome Magnitude 7 Metals to Marston, so they can bring quality jobs back to this region.”

Magnitude 7 Metals formally announced its plans to begin aluminum production at the former Noranda Aluminum smelter at the St. Jude Industrial Park and the return of 450 jobs. According to Bob Prusak, CEO, production of one line will begin in May followed by a second production line next fall.

In 2016, when the former owners of the smelter at the St. Jude Industrial Park filed for bankruptcy, hundreds of jobs disappeared in a major economic hit to the region. M7M acquired the facility with the plan to bring two out of three production lines for processing aluminum back in service, phasing-in operations over two years beginning in 2018.

In announcing the company’s plans to produce 160,000 metric tons of aluminum annually, Prusak praised President Donald Trump’s leadership and policies, including tariffs on imported aluminum and steel that Trump announced Thursday.

“These tariffs will also enable us to look at five additional projects here at the smelter that could result in an additional 450 jobs being brought back here,” he said to the cheers and applause of the crowd.

A critical component to reopen the smelter in Marston was their ability to negotiate energy costs that would allow the company to compete in the global aluminum market. The company was able to reach an agreement with Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc., which is owned by and provides wholesale power to six regional and 51 local electric cooperative systems in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma.

“With hard work and creativity, Associated and M7M have reached an agreement that is good for the bootheel, creates new jobs, and is good for M7M and Associated’s members,” said David J. Tudor, Associate chief executive officer and general manager. “This agreement will enable M7M to start operation and begin adding jobs in southeast Missouri immediately.  Associated’s members will benefit through the more efficient use of available generating capacity, which helps offset the cost of service to all members.”

In addition to Associated Electric Cooperative, the economic development team that worked with M7M included the County of New Madrid, the Department of Economic Development, Representative Don Rone, Congressman Jason Smith, the Governor’s Office and the office of the President.

The company is expected to use the state’s new Skilled Workforce Missouri program, launched last fall, which provides customized workforce solutions. These can range from personalized recruitment services to company-specific training.

“Rural America is open for business. From Washington to Missouri, what we are announcing today is the result of years of hard work and a major change in the way employers and farmers are treated,” said Congressman Smith. “We’ve passed major tax cuts, repealed regulations at historic rates and lowered energy prices, all to ultimately help the American worker. Now, with the President’s commitment to new, fairer trade deals, we are bringing back the domestic aluminum and steel industries and with it, jobs.”

Reopening the aluminum smelter is welcome news to the region which has a county unemployment rate of 5.4%.

“The high paying jobs that will be created by reopening this facility will bring hope and stability to families across who for too long have been out of work,” Missouri Representative Don Rone said. “The effects of this news will ripple not only throughout our region, but across generations.”

Rone, who represents the 149th district, which includes the local plant, pointed out the number of young people in the audience. He said good paying jobs such as those announced by M7M will enable young people to remain in the area following graduation.

“That is what we are here for folks. It is not for the gray hairs like me,” he said. “I’m all about kids.”

Magnitude 7 Metals plans to produce primary and high purity aluminum at the smelter in Marston, Missouri. It is a completely U.S.-owned limited liability company. At full capacity, the Marston smelter can support the production of up to 263,000 metric tons of aluminum per year. It will be one of seven operational aluminum smelters in the United States.

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