AVERY ISLAND, La. (KLFY) — Cargill announced today that they are permanently ending salt production at the mine at Avery Island, wrapping up work that goes back to the mid-1800s.

Iberia Parish President Larry Richard says the closure will leave nearly 200 workers without a job.

“It’s going to be a big loss to Iberia Parish. Cargill is a major corner stone here,” Richard said.

“They have an unbelievable company that spends a lot of money and have a lot of employees. A lot of businesses do work with Cargill, so that’s a lot of tax dollars,” he added. “We are going to feel it, believe me, in Iberia Parish.”

Cargill had originally planned to continue operations through Dec. 31, when their lease with Avery Island Inc. — the mine’s owners — expires. Cargill has managed the mine since 1997, when it acquired the lease from Azko-Nobel.

“While Cargill will no longer produce salt from the mine, there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done at the mine to safely close the facility which will likely take until 2024,” stated the press release. “A detailed site closure plan has been established outlining work activities. The company is working with employees to offer a variety of support services as they are needed.”

“For over 24 years, we have been proud to be part of the Avery Island and New Iberia communities,” said Sonya Roberts, president of Cargill’s salt business. “This was a difficult business decision, but ultimately the right one as we considered the future economics of the mine’s operation and our production capacity until the end of the year. We’d like to thank Avery Island Inc. for their partnership over those years and thank our hard-working employees who have made the mine successful.”

Avery Island was the first rock salt mine in North America and is one of three salt mines operated by Cargill. All three mines produce deicing salt that is used to keep roads safe and clear during the winter months throughout the U.S. and Canada. Cargill also operates a salt evaporation facility in Breaux Bridge where the company is expanding capacity and increasing efficiency. Those facilities are not impacted by this announcement. Cargill also operates 22 other salt production locations that produce, package and ship salt for road deicing, food, water softening, agricultural, industrial and packaged ice control products.