Lion plans temporary shutdown of plant

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Lion Copolymer Holdings said it will temporarily shut down its Baton Rouge synthetic rubber plant, a move that will affect about 265 direct and contract employees.

The company announced Wednesday it will shut down the facility at 5955 Scenic Highway beginning Feb. 3, because of an unfavorable market for styrene-butadiene rubber.

Lion President Jesse Zeringue said the unfavorable market was because of declining market conditions for domestically produced replacement tires and conveyor belts, a global overcapacity for synthetic rubber and volatile prices for key raw materials.

The vice president of human resources for Lion, Dana Coody, said the company has about 150 direct employees at Scenic Highway. There are 115 contract workers who also will be affected by the shutdown.

The length of the shutdown has yet to be determined.

“Lion will work with its employees during this difficult transition,” Zeringue said.

The move will not affect Lion’s synthetic rubber plant in Geismar, which has more than 110 direct employees and 150 contract workers. Last year, Lion completed a $70 million expansion of the Geismar plant, which increased its production capacity from 205 million pounds of Royalene EPDM to 285 million pounds.

Royalene is used in automotive, industrial and consumer hoses, weatherseals, molded goods, and wire and cable insulation among other things.

The U.S. government opened Lion’s Baton Rouge plant in 1943, making it one of the world’s first commercial producers of synthetic rubber.