January 29, 2021
American agribusiness Cargill announced Thursday that it will permanently stop production at its salt mine on Avery Island, LA this year as its lease with the site’s owner, Avery Island Inc., reaches its expiration date on December 31.
“For over 24 years, we have been proud to be part of the Avery Island and New Iberia communities,” Sonya Roberts, president of Cargill’s salt business, said in a release. “This was a difficult business decision, but ultimately the right one as we considered the future economics of the mine’s operation and our production capacity until the end of the year. We’d like to thank Avery Island Inc. for their partnership over those years and thank our hard-working employees who have made the mine successful.”
The company said work to safely shut down and close the mine is expected to be carried out through 2024. Impacted employees are being offered a number of services to support them during the process, according to Cargill.
Cargill acquired the lease to the Avery Island mine in 1997 from Akzo-Nobel. It is one of three salt mines operated in the company’s network. All of the sites produce deicing salt for roadways. Although the mine is slated for closure, the firm said it is expanding capacity and increasing efficiency at its salt evaporation operation in Breaux, LA.
“We are confident we will be able to fulfill our customer obligations and do not expect disruptions to their operations,” Roberts said. “Our supply chain is robust and we remain committed to investing in our other operations while continuing to grow our salt business.”
The site’s closure comes after a roof collapse occurred at the Avery Island mine in mid-December that left two miners dead. A Cargill spokesperson told the Associated Press (AP) that the accident led the company to close the site earlier than it had originally planned.
A report by The Acadiana Advocate noted that Cargill’s salt mine has been issued over 50 safety citations by Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors in 2020.
Avery Island is also home to the TOBASCO brand pepper sauce production plant.
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