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Firestone to halt liquid latex production at Liberian plant

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A worker at Bridgestone's NR plantation in Africa.
A worker at Bridgestone's NR plantation in Africa.

HARBEL, Liberia—Firestone Natural Rubber Co., a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corp., will cease producing liquid latex at its Liberian plantation in the fourth quarter of 2014 and concentrate solely on the production of block rubber, the company said.

“This change will allow the company to utilize its entire output for the manufacture of tires and other rubber products,” Firestone Natural Rubber said in a statement issued Aug. 14.

A company spokesman said that “focusing solely on the collection and processing of block rubber for internal use will help reduce the complexity of our Liberian operations and also help us achieve our goal of long-term sustainability at Firestone Liberia.”

Firestone would not divulge its current or future production of latex and block rubber.

With the discontinuation of latex production, Firestone Natural Rubber will close its latex terminals in Baltimore and Savannah, Ga., by the end of the fourth quarter, it said.

A company spokesman said Firestone Liberia ships all of its block rubber exports through the APM terminal in Norfolk, Va.

The company said it is working with its current latex customers to assure a smooth transition as they seek alternate sources of supply.

Approximately 200 workers, mostly in Liberia, will be affected by the end of latex production at the Firestone plantation, the company said. Because of employee attrition and reassignment, actual layoffs will be minimal, it said.