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Felman halts production at New Haven plant

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Felman Production announced Friday it is beginning a three-month shutdown at its New Haven production plant in order to combat poor market conditions.

Felman is a leading producer of the additive silicomanganese, a deoxidizer that allows steel companies to produce a purer type of steel.

In May, it announced it planned to shut down one of its three furnaces as a way to cut costs in the face high electricity costs of poor silicomanganese.

Officials said the market continued to deteriorate following the May announcement, leading to the decision to shut the plant down effective immediately on Friday.

In a news release announcing the shutdown, the company said the decision was "difficult, but inevitable"

"While it pains us to make this very difficult decision, after exploring a variety of options we concluded it is no longer economically viable to operate in the current market environment," said Mordechai "Motti" Korf, chief executive officer at Felman's parent company, Georgian American Alloys Inc.

"This decision is in no way reflective of the skilled and dedicated workforce Felman employs, but rather the economic conditions that have severely hindered our ability to remain operational," Korf said.

The company, which employs 211 people, said it would re-evaluate market conditions within the next two months to decide whether it will restart operations or keep the plant closed for an additional period of time.

The company said it has given notice of closure to its employees, vendors and customers as part of an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible.

It said it does not plan to make any layoffs during the first two months of the shutdown in order to comply with labor laws and continue ongoing maintenance activities on its furnaces.

The company did say its in-house slag processing unit will remain operational during the shutdown.

Felman employed 250 hourly and salary workers when it celebrated the 60th anniversary of the New Haven plant last July.

The Foote Mineral Co. built the plant in 1952, and it has had a tumultuous history. The plant closed and reopened numerous times as some owners declared bankruptcy and sold the plant to new owners.

The plant's most recent closure was in 2006, when Felman bought it for $20 million from bankrupt Highlander Alloys. Felman invested an additional $80 million to restart operations at the plant that year.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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