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Lehigh Hanson Dials Back Projects; Initiates Layoffs

Lehigh Hanson Inc. has delayed the start of a $600 million expansion project at its Lehigh Cement Co. plant in Mitchell, Ind., due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reported local media.

“This was a difficult decision, but it’s also prudent,” said Jerry Miller, Mitchell plant manager. “A construction project of this magnitude has numerous components, such as supply chain certainty, material deliveries and, importantly, worker availability. These are tied to precise construction scheduling timelines, all of which have been negatively impacted.”

Lehigh broke ground for the new plant in October 2019. Since then, activity has mainly been focused on site preparation in advance of structural assembly.

The company said it will continue to finalize the engineering and delivery of equipment but will limit the amount of site work during the remainder of 2020 and will move it into early 2021. 

The new startup target date for the plant will shift from September 2022 to the third quarter of 2023.

Lehigh Cement Co. LLC announced that most of their cement-making work at their Glens Falls, N.Y., plant and Moreau quarry would cease due to slowdown in demand across their servicing region throughout New England.

Lehigh announced that they would have to lay off 54 of their 90 employees between the two sites. Those layoffs, which will occur over the next two weeks, are intended to be temporary. The company will pay for the health insurance of all affected employees, and will be offering help in seeking unemployment and other aid.

“We deeply regret the need to make this difficult decision, which is happening at most Lehigh Hanson operations throughout the United States,” the release read. “Prior to the tragic onset of COVID-19, all indications were that this was going to be a strong construction season. We look forward to the day when our nation’s health is no longer at such risk and our customers’ demand for cement products returns, so we can welcome our employees back and resume full operations.”

The Glens Falls plant will continue finish-cement grinding, and will service local needs with the abundance of cement they now have ready to use.

Lehigh Hanson continues to deal with the fallout from COVID-19's impact on the economy.

"The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact all of us across North America," the company stated. "Lehigh Hanson has been diligently monitoring the situation and has taken a number of steps to respond to this growing threat in order to protect the safety and health of our employees, our customers and the communities where we do business. We will continue to watch developments closely and follow the guidance of local and federal health officials.

"At this time, the majority of our locations remain open for business with normal operating hours and have contingency plans in place to remain operational if conditions worsen. Employees at our plants, distribution centers and sales yards have implemented precautions to minimize human-to-human contact and are doing their best to ensure minimal disruption to the availability of our products and services. We have also empowered our corporate and support staff to work from home where possible and taken additional precautions to ensure offices and locations where employees continue to work onsite are cleaned and sanitized regularly," the company continued.

"We remain committed to safely supplying you with quality products and superior service during this time. If you have any questions about your orders or the availability of products in your area, please contact your sales representative. Click here to find a location close to your project and for information on how to contact a sales representative," the company concluded.