MELTING POINT: Think of it as a mathematical formula that describes a physical reality: A metal melts at a precise temperature. It takes an equally exact amount of energy—expressed in thermal units—to produce that temperature. When the cost to produce those thermal units exceeds the market value of the metal, it is no longer profitable to smelt the metal. Smelters close.
Accordingly, Alcoa corporation in October announced it will idle its two smelters in Ferndale and Wenatchee as it shrinks aluminum output and concentrates on more profitable products. And while many factors and conditions contributed to the company’s decision, that formula may be the most immutable and cruelest to the nearly 600 workers employed at the Cherry Point facility and their families. […]