News | November 23, 1998

Dow To Exit Magnesium Business

The Dow Chemical Co. is to shut down its sole magnesium plant in Freeport, TX as part of the company's plans to exit the magnesium business. The shut down process will begin immediately at the Gulf Coast plant, which had a nameplate capacity of 65,000 metric tons.

In deciding to exit the magnesium business, Dow executives have evaluated a variety of factors including the global marketplace and the company's strategic direction. The substantial damage the Freeport plant sustained from lightning strikes and flooding, spawned by recent severe storms, weighed heavily in the decision, the company said.

"The resulting damage from these storms has continued to cause complex production problems for the magnesium plant," said Frank Petitti, global business director for magnesium. "Dow has been unable to rectify this situation, and we have concluded that the existing plant will not be able to achieve satisfactory production and quality levels."

Since January 1941, the Freeport plant has been extracting magnesium from seawater through an electrolytic process. The plant played a key role during World War II when the lightweight metal became a critical alloy for airplanes. U.S. military aircraft production escalated, and as much as 2,000 pounds of magnesium was needed per plane. Today, magnesium alloys are die cast into a variety of automotive components including valve covers, steering wheels and instrument panels.

"Dow has produced magnesium in Freeport, Texas, for over 57 years and has established many old and valued customer and community relationships. We thank them for their past business and support, and more importantly, for their patience during this difficult time," Petitti said.

For more information: Lisa Wenban, Dow Chemical Co., telephone: 517-636-0615.