CHICAGO Nov 15 Caterpillar Inc said on
Friday that it will close another plant and lay off 240
additional workers as it continues to respond to a sharp drop in
demand for its earth-moving products from customers in the
The planned shutdown of the Pulaski, Va. facility, which
makes coal haulers and other equipment, is expected to be
completed by mid-2014. It is the latest in a series of such
closures announced by the Peoria, Ill-based heavy equipment
Earlier this month, Caterpillar said it would restructure a
factory that makes underground mining equipment in the
Australian state of Tasmania, idling 200 workers there.
Last month, it said it was closing a mining equipment
facility in Kilgore, Texas and laying off the 100 workers
employed in it.
Those closures and firings came on the heels of a number of
smaller consolidations and shutdowns at plants in Beckley, W.
Va., Tazewell, Va., and Sudbury, Ontario that put more than 75
employees out of work.
In addition, Caterpillar has laid off 900 workers at its
biggest mining equipment plants in Decatur, Ill. and South
Caterpillar also makes construction equipment, railroad
locomotives, and a variety of reciprocating and turbine engines.
But mining equipment is its most profitable product category.
Those margins were one of the reasons it made mining
equipment a focus of its merger and acquisiton activity in
recent years, buying Bucyrus, a U.S. maker of giant excavators
and shovels, for $7.6 billion in 2010, and ERA Mining, a Chinese
mining equipment company, for $654 million in 2012.
But the ink was barely dry on those deals before
Caterpillar's global mining customers, facing investor backlash
over unpopular takeovers, budget overruns and falling metal
prices, slashed capital spending, slowed development on some
projects and shelved others entirely, and postponed or canceled
new equipment orders.
That pullback, which caught Caterpillar by surprise, has
forced the company to cut its outlook three times so far this
Last month, as it released disappointing third-quarter
earnings, Caterpillar warned its 2014 sales could be down as
much as 5 percent from 2013.
Over the past year, the company has cut more than 13,000
jobs, about 10 percent of the global total, as the slowdown in
its mining business forced it to repeatedly post
lower-than-expected quarterly results and repeatedly slash its