Ergon BioFuels plans to close ethanol plant at the end of the year

Published 7:43 pm Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ergon BioFuels LLC, a subsidiary of Ergon, Inc., has announced it will close its ethanol plant at the Port of Vicksburg in December, according to a press release sent late Thursday.

Attempts to reach Ergon for further information, including how many employees would be affected by the closure, were unsuccessful.

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“Ergon management has made significant investments at Ergon BioFuels over the years and had planned additional improvements to increase ethanol and corn oil yields going forward,” said Kris Patrick, Ergon chief operating officer.

“Unfortunately, continued erosion in margins, coupled with underperforming production equipment and the economic challenges of being a destination plant, forced us to make this very difficult decision.

“We have a family-oriented culture and consider employees to be Ergon’s most valued asset,” Patrick said. “We will work to place as many Ergon BioFuels employees as possible in our other Vicksburg and Jackson businesses.”

The plant was built in 2007 as a joint venture between Ergon Ethanol Inc. and Bunge North America Inc. and was designed to produce 54 million gallons of fuel ethanol per year. Ergon closed the plant in 2012, and Bunge sold its interest in the plant to Ergon in 2013.

The plant reopened in 2015 and Ergon signed an agreement with Gavilon, which has a fertilizer plant at the port.

The terms of what the companies called a comprehensive service arrangement called for Gavilon to operate the 3.2-million bushel warehouse at the biofuel facility and begin buying crops such as corn, soybeans milo and soft red wheat from area producers.

Gavilon would supply feedstock and market dried and wet distillers’ grain and corn distillers’ condensed solubles, while Ergon owned and operated the ethanol plant and marketed the biofuel and corn oil made there.

“We know all Ergon companies are uniquely attentive to their employees needs and the community’s needs,” said Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce executive director Pablo Diaz.

“Even in the event of these less than desirable circumstances we see a genuine concern from the company for the families of their employees and we have pledged to work closely with them to ease the transition for those affected.

“We have several companies that are hiring in the region right now and we plan to make them all aware of the talent that will be available due to this layoff. Although no official number has been given by the company, we estimate that around 30 jobs would be affected.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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