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Columbia Falls Plant to Remain Operating

by Associated Press
The Missouian, February 15, 2009

(Chris Peterson photo) The CFAC plant, shown here Monday, is expected to shut down entirely by February. A recent court ruling didn't help the company's finances by any means. COLUMBIA FALLS - Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. is dropping plans to close its plant this month and cut up to 200 jobs.

An energy-supply contract with the Bonneville Power Administration will help the plant stay open, Columbia Falls Aluminum spokesman Haley Beaudry said. Production will decrease, but the plant will operate at least through June, Beaudry said.

Under the agreement negotiated with BPA on Friday, the company will get electricity at rates more attractive than anticipated earlier.

"It's been an arduous negotiation with Bonneville, but we've had a lot of help, I believe, from Senators Baucus and Tester and Congressman Rehberg," Beaudry said.

Energy prices were high on the list when Columbia Falls Aluminum said in December that production costs, slumping aluminum prices and growing inventories worldwide would require closing the plant. On Dec. 23, the company announced aluminum production would end in 60 days. Last summer, Columbia Falls Aluminum reduced production and laid off 125 employees.

The 60-day notice came a week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down terms under which Northwest aluminum companies obtained power through BPA, a federal power marketing agency. The decision left Columbia Falls Aluminum bracing for higher energy prices.

The plant opened 55 years ago and is owned by Glencore AG, which is based in Switzerland and maintains a Stamford, Conn., headquarters for U.S. operations.

Associated Press
Columbia Falls Plant to Remain Operating
The Missouian, February 15, 2009

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