Spiralling energy costs driving closure of Drogheda magnesia plant
Energy Support Taskforce urgently needed
Trade unions Unite and Connect, which represent workers at the Drogheda magnesia plant Premier Periclase, have written to the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, asking him intervene to help save jobs at the plant. The unions’ request follows a decision by the new owners to close the plant. Pointing out that the decision to suspend operation at Premier Periclase, with the loss of over 50 jobs, the unions are urging the Government to explore the options available under the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework adopted in March 2022 which allows government to provide assistance to businesses facing high energy costs. In July, the European Commission approved a €5 billion German scheme to support energy and trade intensive companies across industrial sectors in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Unite and Connect are asking the government to set up an Energy Support Taskforce with a view to developing a similar scheme as a matter of urgency.
Commenting, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Tom Fitzgerald said:
“Internationally, Premier Periclase is one of just a handful of independent producers of seawater magnesium, which is considered to be particularly pure. There is potentially significant demand for new magnesium products as technologies incorporating magnesium move from research and development to market introduction. These include electric vehicle and commercial aircraft designs.
“The decision by the new owners to suspend operations at the plant in the face of spiralling energy costs will not only impact on the workers concerned and on the local economy, but will also mean the loss of strategic skills and manufacturing capacity which, once gone, will be difficult to recover”.
Connect Regional Official Tom Faulkner added:
“In March 2022, the European Commission adopted a Temporary Crisis Framework following the Russian invasion of Ukraine enabling governments to give state aid to companies affected by spiralling energy costs, especially those with energy-intensive production processes. In July, the Commission approved a €5 billion German scheme to support energy and trade intensive companies across industrial sectors in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it is clear that an Energy Support Taskforce to develop a similar scheme is urgently required in Ireland. Pending development of such a scheme, however, Premier Periclase requires immediate assistance to avert a closure.
Concluding, Tom Fitzgerald said: “We are urging the Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, to make contact with the new owners of Premier Periclase and the unions in order to develop a package of supports which will ensure that the plant can continue in operation”.