Liberty Steel Group said Wednesday it will shut down its Georgetown mill for at least three months citing to declining economic conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 130 employees and contractors will be laid off or redeployed, with a few workers retained for maintenance of the wire rod plant. Existing contracts will be fulfilled by Liberty’s mill in Peoria, Ill.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have seen demand for our products soften considerably and, therefore, we need to rebalance our production with forecast demand,” said Gregory Jones, CEO of Liberty Steel USA. Jones called the move “a difficult decision which hasn’t been taken lightly.”
Liberty, a division of British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s privately held GFG Alliance, said it will reassess market conditions in three months to determine whether the Georgetown mill will reopen at that time.
Jones said the company is working with city and state officials on a long-term plan for the mill and he believes “there is a positive future for the steelworks.”
Suspension of operations is supported by the local United Steelworkers union.
“The coronavirus pandemic is being taken seriously by the Liberty management group,” said James Sanderson, president of United Steelworkers Local No 7898. “The decision to idle our plant fully supports the safety and the families of Liberty Steel.”