Gerdau, one of the world's largest steel makers, plans to lay off 31 union steelworkers in St. Paul this week, the Pioneer Press reports. That will leave the Brazil-based company with just barely enough workers to meet the terms of forgivable loans it received from the state and the St. Paul Port Authority. The company is required to employ at least 330 workers at its plant until 2015.
"It's based on market conditions right now," a Gerdau spokesman told the newspaper. "This just underscores the need to get our (modernization) project finished, so St. Paul is a modern mill, and St. Paul won't be faced with these unfortunate choices in the future."
The St. Paul steel mill is working on a $50 million upgrade to increase annual production capacity. The project, which is slated to be completed early next year, was announced last May, Twin Cities Business reported.
Gerdau purchased the former North Star Steel mill in 2004 from Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc. for $266 million.