WASHINGTON — Russian metals giant Evraz will idle operations at one of its U.S. steel mills due to soft demand and competition from imports, a move that will see 375 employees laid off, the company's North American subsidiary said this week.
"We appreciated our employees' efforts to operate Evraz Claymont as efficiently as possible," John Zanieski, executive vice president at Evraz North America said of the mill in Claymont, Delaware, in a statement Monday. "Unfortunately, market conditions continue to be challenging and low market visibility makes it difficult to foresee when positive changes will occur."
Evraz, part-owned by billionaire Roman Abramovich, acquired the steel plate producer for $565 million in 2008, a year after it made one of the largest investments in the U.S. ever by a Russian company, by purchasing Oregon Steel Mills for $2.3 billion.
Current customers of the Claymont mill will be serviced by Evraz operations in Portland, Oregon, and Saskatchewan, Canada, after the Delaware facility is idled, the company said.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell told WDEL Radio that the closure is "obviously incredibly disappointing for the couple hundred Delawareans who work there and their families."
"Unfortunately, this industry is very challenging, and there are very cheap imports coming in from overseas." Markell said Monday evening.
The governor told WDEL that he is working with Evraz to examine the possibility of restarting operations at the mill at a later point.
"We are going to work as best we can with the company to forge a better path, but it is not immediately clear what that is," he said.
Delaware lawmaker Dennis Williams told WDEL that he was shocked by the layoffs because of significant resources Evraz had invested into the mill recently, including $17 million to reduce dust produced at the facility.
Evraz, whose North American operations are headquartered in Chicago, owns eight manufacturing plants across the continent — four in the U.S. and four in Canada — as well as 18 scrap metal operations across both countries.