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Cargill announces end of salt production at Avery Island salt mine

Move accelerates planned end of hoisting scheduled for Dec. 31
Cargill scene pic.jpg
Posted at 2:40 PM, Jan 28, 2021

WAYZATA, Minnesota Cargill announced Thursday the permanent end of salt production at its mine in Avery Island, Louisiana. The company had originally planned to halt hoisting salt from the mine later in 2021 as the lease with the landowner Avery Island Inc., expires at year-end.

While Cargill will no longer produce salt from the mine, there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done at the mine to safely close the facility which will likely take until 2024. A detailed site closure plan has been established outlining work activities. The company is working with employees to offer a variety of support services as they are needed.

“For over 24 years, we have been proud to be part of the Avery Island and New Iberia communities,” said Sonya Roberts, president of Cargill’s salt business. “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.”

While employee impacts are still being determined, Roberts notes that the company remains committed to treating employees with dignity and respect in line with Cargill’s values, according to a release from Cargill.

We spoke with Iberia Parish President, Larry Richard. He says the closure will be a loss to the parish.

"It's going to be a major loss to Iberia parish. Cargill is a major cornerstone here in Iberia parish. They have an unbelievable company, they spend a lot of money, pay a lot of tax dollars, so let me tell you, we will feel it in Iberia parish" Richard said.

The mine on Avery Island has been operating since the mid-1800s and was the first rock salt mine in North America. The mine is owned by Avery Island Inc. and has been managed by Cargill since 1997 when it acquired the lease from Azko-Nobel.

Avery Island is one of three salt mines operated by Cargill. All three mines produce deicing salt that is used to keep roads safe and clear during the winter months throughout the U.S. and Canada. Cargill also operates a salt evaporation facility in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana where the company is expanding capacity and increasing efficiency. Those facilities are not impacted by this announcement. Cargill also operates 22 other salt production locations that produce, package and ship salt for road deicing, food, water softening, agricultural, industrial and packaged ice control products.

“We are confident we will be able to fulfill our customer obligations and do not expect disruptions to their operations,” said Roberts. “Our supply chain is robust and we remain committed to investing in our other operations while continuing to grow our salt business.”

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