Haverhill steel mill moves forwardPublished 11:06am Friday, February 24, 2012
Whether or not a new steel mill comes to the area can depends on overcoming a couple of roadblocks. If the plant is built in Southern Ohio, it could mean up to 2,500 jobs for the Tri-State.
That’s what the Lawrence County Commissioners learned when New Steel International, the developer of the project, met with them and other state and economic development leaders in a meeting Thursday in Portsmouth.
Also at the meeting were the Scioto County Commissioners; State Sen. Tom Niehaus; State Rep. Terry Johnson; John Schultes, New Steel International CEO; Bill Dickens, Ironton economic development director and Dr. Bill Dingus, director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp.
About four years ago a Russian steelmaker had plans to build an electric arc steel mill on acreage in Haverhill near the Lawrence County line. The next year that company pulled out of the project leaving economic leaders wondering what could be done with that 5,000 acreage on the Ohio River.
The current plan is to bring in another steel mill plus a German-based forging plant that would work as a satellite component to the project. That plant produces 200-ton single pieces of steel, mainly used in nuclear power plants.
“The meeting went real well,” Commissioner Bill Pratt said at the commission’s Thursday meeting. “Hopefully it will actually happen.”
What has to be put in place is a power purchase agreement with an end user for the electric power generated as a byproduct of the steel mill operation.
“They will reclaim the heat from the steel making,” Pratt said.
The German plant has set May 19 as its deadline on needing to know whether the overall project will take place. If the project isn’t scheduled to come to Haverhill, that company could move its proposed operation at this site to India, Pratt said.
Also needed is the remaining $200 million in financing of the $7 billion project.
“(With the power purchase agreement) the financing will follow,” the commissioner said. “They will have a revenue source. If this happens, we will become the new hub of energy for the country.”
In a telephone interview after the meeting Schultes said he could not reveal details of the project including the names of the possible companies because of confidentiality agreements. He did say he expected groundbreaking by the end of the year.
“We made good progress today,” he said. “We are optimistic that we can put the project back on track sometime this year.”
New Steel International has the official construction permits needed to build the steel mill and supporting industry. The LEDC and the Scioto County Port Authority have a number of EPA air credits needed for this kind of heavy industry.
In other business the commission:
• Approved issuing $400,000 in general obligation bonds at the interest rate of 2.99 percent to finance the building of a new barn and arena at the county fairgrounds;
• Signed a contract with Adams, Brown and Scioto counties for housing for juveniles at the rate of $85 per bed, an increase of $10;
Proclaimed the week of March 4-10 as National Agriculture Week.
Before the meeting Commission President Les Boggs asked the audience for a moment of silence in memory of Commissioner Paul Herrell, who died on Feb. 17.