Unions call on Tánaiste to intervene to save jobs at Premier Periclase in Drogheda

Company that makes magnesium-based products has been hit by spiralling energy costs

Trade unions representing workers at Premier Periclase in Drogheda have called on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to intervene to save more than 50 jobs following the decision by new owners to suspend operations at the plant over “spiralling energy costs”.

The company exited examinership in May after a survival plan was approved by the High Court.

New owners the Munich-based Callista Turnaround 10 GmbH, who had decided to cut half of the plant’s 94-strong workforce, are said to be concerned about the viability of the plant given escalating gas prices.

The Co Louth-based group, which makes magnesium-based products, had been successful until the recent surge in gas prices decimated its cost base.

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It specialises in making magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide products used in the manufacture of heat-resistant lining for furnaces. The plant requires a large amount of gas to generate the energy to make its products.

The examinership process heard that as of the end of last year it owed Bord Gáis €2.5 million and electricity supplier Energia €900,000.

Trade unions Unite and Connect, who are in a consultation process with the company, want the Government to explore options under the State Aid Temporary Crisis Framework adopted in March 2022. It allows EU governments to provide assistance to businesses facing high energy costs.

“Internationally, Premier Periclase is one of just a handful of independent producers of seawater magnesium, which is considered to be particularly pure,” Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer Tom Fitzgerald said.

“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,” he said.

“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,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times