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Trona mine in Green River announces layoffs
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Trona mine in Green River announces layoffs

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Soda Ash Challenges

A conveyor drops trona ore onto a stockpile at the Green River plant in 2009. The plant in the background processes the trona into soda ash. Owner Gensis Alkali confirmed Thursday there would be layoffs at the facility.

A trona company in Green River confirmed it will lay off several workers in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genesis Alkali told the Star-Tribune on Friday it had recently instituted a workforce reduction at its Green River plants and mine. Communications Director David Caplan declined to provide the exact number of employees affected by the layoffs.

Genesis Alkali employs about 950 workers at its multiple processing plants and underground mine. The mine is located 1,600 feet below ground, a depth equivalent to 170 stories.

The firm operates a natural soda ash mine and eight production plants in the sodium-rich Green River Basin in southwestern Wyoming. The site boasts the largest known trona deposit in the world.

Workers refine mined trona ore into soda ash or baking soda, among other products. Soda ash is a critical ingredient in several everyday products, such as baking soda, glass, detergent and even electronics.

In its first quarter report, the company said a “destruction in demand” for the finished products dependent on soda ash during the pandemic had posed a significant challenge to the company.

“We expect to experience some $15-$20 million less in terms of reported margin than what we would have otherwise expected for the remainder of 2020,” stated Grant Sims, CEO of Genesis Energy.

Over 40 percent of global soda ash demand comes from China.

According to the Wyoming Mining Association, Genesis Alkali mined 4.2 million tons of trona in 2018.

Since the pandemic began, layoffs have occurred at multiple Wyoming mines, most of which produce coal.

Follow the latest on Wyoming’s energy industry at @camillereports

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Energy and Natural Resources Reporter

Camille Erickson covers the state's energy industries. She received her master's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Before moving to Casper in 2019, she reported on business and labor in Minneapolis, Chicago and Washington.

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