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07. January 2009

USA - Alcoa cutbacks not expected to hurt in West Michigan

Alcoa Inc., the world's third-largest aluminum maker, said Tuesday it will cut 13,500 jobs and slash spending, but officials at the West Michigan Alcoa division say their cuts are finished and they expect to bring laid-off workers back soon.

Initial word out of Alcoa Howmet Castings in Whitehall -- Muskegon County's largest industrial employer -- is that the corporate cutbacks have already occurred locally. Howmet laid off 100 in mid October but still employs about 2,400.

The Pittsburgh-based company also said 1,700 contractors will be cut as part of a broad-based plan to reduce costs that includes the planned sale of four business units and a global salary and hiring freeze.

The news comes after Alcoa announced production reductions last fall. On Tuesday, it said it will further limit smelting by more than 135,000 metric tons per year, lowering total aluminum output by more than 750,000 metric tons, or 18 percent, annually.

Production of alumina, a material used to make aluminum, will be reduced to 1.5 million metric tons per year in response to market conditions, the company said.

As part of the plan, Alcoa said it would divest its electrical and electonic systems, global foil, cast auto wheels and European transportation products businesses.

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