Twenty workers will lose their jobs when an aluminum maker shuts down its Hammond plant at the end of the month.
Ohio-based Aleris International notified employees Monday they would be out of work in August, because it is closing its 34-year-old aluminum recycling facility at 6340 Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond. The plant closure is a cost-cutting move.
The Hammond plant takes scrap aluminum and uses it to make slag conditioners, desulferizers and other products that are needed for steelmaking, said Aleris director of communications Jason Saragian. That work will instead be done at a plant in Elyria, Ohio.
"We did a comprehensive review of our facilities and determined we could streamline operations and serve customers more efficiently by consolidating in Elyria," he said.
About 10 to 15 jobs will be added at the Aleris plant in Northeast Ohio, about 30 miles outside of Cleveland. The Hammond workers are welcome to apply for those openings if they would be willing to relocate, Saragian said.
Workers were offered severance benefits, but details were not available.
Most of the affected employees are production workers, though salaried managers also will be laid off.
The Hammond plant shreds scrap aluminum and turns it into briquettes that are used in a variety of products that steelmakers use to remove impurities and excess oxygen during the purification process. The facility opened in 1979, and has been run by Aleris since the privately held company was created through a combination of mergers and acquisitions in 2004, Saragian said.
Customers of the Hammond plant include steel mills and service centers.
Aleris will continue to serve local mills and other customers after it ramps up the amount of aluminum it makes in Ohio, and no disruption in service is expected, Saragian said.
"It's difficult news for the employees who were impacted in Hammond," he said. "But we're taking advantage of an opportunity to serve our current customers more efficiently where we'll have the capacity for future growth."
The company has adequate capacity at the Ohio plant to maintain the same production volume it had at the Hammond facility, Saragian said. Aleris chose to consolidate the two facilities so that it can remain competitive on price.
"We feel it's the right move for the company, though we understand it's difficult for the Hammond employees," he said. "We don't take decisions like this lightly."
Aleris will continue to operate 11 aluminum recycling facilities across the United States, and six more in Europe.