ShareThis Page
Alcoa lays off 50 workers at tech center in Upper Burrell |
Local Stories

Alcoa lays off 50 workers at tech center in Upper Burrell

Alex Nixon
| Tuesday, March 17, 2015 5:09 p.m

Alcoa Inc. laid off 50 workers at its research center in Upper Burrell and is planning to sell an alumina refinery in South America as the company focuses on cutting expenses and reducing aluminum production because of low prices.

The cuts at the research facility, made last week, represented 8 percent of the Alcoa Technical Center’s 600 employees and were part of an “internal reorganization to more closely align with the priorities of our businesses,” spokeswoman Tracie Gliozzi said Tuesday.

The New York-based company, which employs 2,000 workers in the Pittsburgh region, has taken steps to diversify its business beyond its traditional mining and smelting roots and emphasize higher-margin products for the auto and aerospace industries.

In a separate announcement, Alcoa said it plans to curtail production at its Suralco alumina refinery in the Republic of Suriname while it negotiates a sale of the facility to that country’s government.

The company this month said it was reviewing about 16 percent of its global refining and 14 percent of its aluminum smelting capacity for closure or sale as part of a strategy to reduce costs.

Suralco — a joint venture plant majority owned by Alcoa — would see about 20 percent of its capacity cut by April 30 in the curtailment, Alcoa said. The company expects to reach a sales agreement with Suriname officials by July 1.

“Reducing the production of the refinery will assist in extending the life of the operations as we continue to work with the government of Suriname on the transaction,” Bob Wilt, president of Alcoa Global Primary Products, said in a statement.

The plant, which employs 700 people, has a total refining capacity of 2.2 million metric tons a year, of which 876,000 metric tons were previously idled.

Alcoa stock closed Tuesday at $13.07, down 23 cents a share, or 1.7 percent.

The company has idled about 19 percent of its smelting capacity and 7 percent of its alumina refining capacity since starting cost-reduction initiatives in 2010.

Alcoa owns or has interests in 20 smelters in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Norway, Iceland, Spain and Saudi Arabia. It owns or has interests in nine refineries in the United States, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Suriname.

While cutting production capacity, Alcoa has been acquiring companies that supply parts to automakers and aircraft manufacturers. Last week, the company said it would buy RTI International Metals Inc., a Moon-based titanium maker, for $1.5 billion.

Alcoa called the RTI acquisition “a major milestone” in its transformation. The deal would give Alcoa a larger footprint in the titanium industry, which the company said is the world’s fastest-growing aerospace metal.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or

Categories: Local stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.