GCC Dacotah is reducing its work force by 21 employees at the Rapid City cement plant, workers were told Wednesday.
Three of those positions will be lost through attrition, and the rest in a layoff, said one of the laid-off workers, who declined to give his name, saying talking to Rapid City Journal could affect the terms of a severance package. The loss represents about a fifth of the plant’s work force, the employee said.
The plant also laid off workers in August 2008, shortly after GCC America opened a new, 1Mta capacity cement plant in Pueblo, Colo.
Around that time the company shut down the Rapid City plant’s "wet kilns," the employee said. Those kilns have a lower capacity and use more energy than newer types of kilns in use in Pueblo, GCC America president Enrique Escalante told Cement Americas industry magazine in an interview published in January.
"In terms of the old plants and some of the wet-process plants, I expect some of those plants not to restart again," he said.
Escalante said the company was looking for efficiencies and new markets at a time when the cement industry is in a downturn because of its ties to the construction industry.
"When demand comes down, we look at where we can produce more efficiently or in an optimised way," Escalante said. "That means bringing inventory down - shutting down or closing kilns that are not as cost effective as new plants. We try to bring up production to capacity on the efficient plant."
In June, the company furloughed employees of its GCC Rio Grande Portland Cement plant in Tijeras, N.M. for a month, in response to a reduced demand for cement, the Mountain View Telegraph newspaper there reported.
Plans for the Pueblo plant were laid at a time when the construction industry in Colorado was booming and there was a shortage of cement, needed to make concrete patios, foundations and sidewalks, the Denver Business Journal reported in 2005.