Sun Coke optimistic about Haverhill plant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2003

HAVERHILL - Sun Coke leaders say plans to build a $135 million plant in Scioto County are close to completion, but not yet set in stone.

"We're working feverishly," said Christopher Allen, project manager for the Haverhill site. "We hope to have something finalized soon - possibly by late Thursday."

Tuesday, Ohio Department of Development officials announced more than $825,000 in Job Creation Tax Credit funds had been secured.

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A news release announcing the funding implied Haverhill North Coke Company's plans were finalized, including a congratulatory note from Gov. Bob Taft. HNCC is a subsidiary of Sun Coke, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based subsidiary of Sunoco Inc.

The Haverhill site has been considered for years and is one of two being considered by Sun Coke. The other site is in Indiana.

Sun Coke executives say the funding was just one of several pieces that need to fall into place before they consider the deal sealed.

"There are a number of things that are still out there

including the final issuance of the air permit," said Earl Humber, vice president and controller with Sun Coke. "Clearly, the air permits from the Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA. That's probably the largest issue outstanding that we have to complete."

In addition to the air permit, Humber said a few other funding mechanisms and incentives still needed to be completed.

"Once those things come together, we do feel the plant will go forward," he said. "If all the incentives are approved, (Haverhill) is the site that will have the plant built on it."

Humber said despite the appearance that everything is falling into place, the company is still considering all options.

"We are still progressing down the path that there's a competitive site as well," he said. "(But) we'd like to think these last few things will be resolved in the next couple of weeks."

Humble said he and others with Sun Coke have been impressed at the "unprecedented speed at which a lot of things were worked through" to help make selecting the site a possibility.

"The support that we got from all levels - from the local levels to the state capitol - was great," he said. "We are very appreciative."

Building the plant would bring approximately 800 jobs during the construction phase and would provide 64 jobs when the plant is operational.

The state of Ohio has committed more than $1.74 million in tax credits and other incentives.

Coke is produced by heating coal to extreme temperatures in absence of air. The coke is used primarily in blast furnaces in the production of iron and steel.

At full capacity, HNCC's plant is expected to purchase 800,000 tons of coal annually, producing 550,000 tons of coke each year.

A major benefit to Sun Coke by locating the facility in Haverhill would be a spin-off effect with its parent company, Sunoco, Inc. The adjacent Sunoco chemical plant could use steam generated at the coke plant instead of high-priced natural gas.

For more information about Sun Coke, visit: Sunoco Inc. (NYSE: SUN) closed at $48.98 Tuesday, down $0.25 cents.