HANNIBAL - Ormet Corp. continues shedding raw materials needed to run its closed smelter, including the sale of 688 metric tons of aluminum fluoride to Noranda Aluminum Inc. for $635,600 that Judge Mary Walrath of the U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Delaware approved Thursday.
However, United Steelworkers District 1 Director David McCall does not believe this sale - or Ormet's sale of copper rods, alumina and carbon anodes - should prevent Ohio Gov. John Kasich from doing everything he can to get the plant restarted.
"There are some assets being sold, but this would not prevent a restart," McCall said. "We could restart three of the six potlines."
During the conference call, McCall continued asking for Kasich to intervene in an effort to get the smelter, closed since Oct. 4, running again to help put nearly 1,000 displaced employees back to work. Union officials maintain Kasich has the ability to help get the plant restarted, as they have sent petitions and Christmas cards to his office requesting help. McCall said this will continue for the foreseeable future.
"We ask Kasich to bring the parties together to negotiate a resolution that will enable the smelter to resume operations. This should not be a matter of politics," McCall said. "If Gov. Kasich and the (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio) live up to Jobs Ohio's promise, we would be operating the facility today."
Jobs Ohio is a nonprofit agency created by Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to facilitate economic development throughout the state.
Ormet shuttered its Hannibal aluminum smelter amid high American Electric Power bills and low global metal prices. CEO Mike Tanchuk announced the closure of the plant that opened in 1958 after the PUCO chose not to lower Ormet's electricity costs from $60 to $45.89 per megawatt-hour as the company requested.
"Ormet and the USW aren't asking the governor, utilities commission or AEP for anything new, outrageous or unreasonable," McCall said regarding Ormet's efforts to lower its utility costs.
On Friday, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said because "nearly half" of Ormet's employees live in the Mountain State, West Virginia leaders should also be asked to help get the smelter running again.
"No one wants to see Ormet reopen its doors more than we do. But because Ohio ratepayers continue to subsidize Ormet's operations, a new solution needs to be found," he said.
McCall said the power pricing agreements are not subsidies, but should be considered discounts that reflect a "market based rate."
"More than anything, Steelworkers at Ormet want to go back to work. We are confident that with a fair power supply agreement, we can make the Hannibal smelter run profitably and efficiently - and that our communities can count on these jobs for future generations," he added.