NEW YORK Exide
Technologies will idle its lead recycling plant in Reading,
Pa., by March 31 in a move that market participants say will
put further downward pressure on junk battery prices.
The decision to idle the plant
was based on such factors as "dramatic swings in the lead
market and the high capital investment needed, due to
regulatory requirements, to remain operational in Reading,"
Exide Americas president Paul Hirt said in a statement.
"By idling this facility, we can
defer spending the capital while still having the majority of
our internal lead demands met through our other three recycling
centers in Vernon, Calif.; Canon Hollow, Mo.; and Muncie,
Ind.," he added.
"Exide would have had to expend
significant capital in order to have Reading become compliant
under the new regulatory regulations," including the National
Ambient Air Quality Standards and National Emissions Standards
for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations, an Exide spokeswoman
told AMM, declining to specify the projected cost.
The Reading plant has an annual
lead recycling capacity of 72,000 tons, she added.
The removal of this capacity
from the market "should put downward pressure on core battery
prices," one battery buyer said.
A broker agreed that the market
"will see junk battery pricing continue to decline" with the
Reading idling, having already fallen significantly over the
past month as supply increases (
amm.com, Nov. 7).
Employees at the Reading
facility were informed of the idling Thursday, with 150 workers
set to be affected, Milton, Ga.-based Exide said.
Exide will maintain the Reading
facilities, as well as the permits and approvals necessary for
all recycling activities. The company has adopted a similar
approach at its Baton Rouge, La., lead recycling plant, which
was idled in 2009 (
amm.com, March 25, 2009).
Exide will also continue to
operate its plastic recycling business from the Reading site,
employing about 25.
The company recently began
curtailing output at its lead recycling facility in Frisco,
Texas, which will be shut by Nov. 30 (
amm.com, Nov. 7). Exide announced in June that it
would close the plant after striking a $45-million deal with
the City of Frisco to sell the property.
Exide previously said that the
Reading facility would be one of the plants that would absorb
work that would have gone to Frisco (
amm.com, June 5).