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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Retirees of a West Virginia aluminum plant have accepted a deal that should partly restore their health benefits.

Thursday's evening vote in Jackson County was a key hurdle as Century Aluminum seeks state aid to restart its idled smelter.

The Ravenswood plant employed around 650 people when it shut down in 2009. The company then began cutting off retiree health coverage.

Karen Gorrell has helped fight for the lost benefits. She estimated that more than 400 retirees attended Thursday's meeting.

Gorrell said Century has agreed to pay at least $44 million over the next decade toward coverage. Retirees not yet eligible for Medicaid would pay premiums. Gorrell said benefits for older retirees are still being discussed.

Lawmakers now expect to consider a tax break for Century on Friday.

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