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Steel plant progress being made

A steel plant that would be built by a Russian company in Haverhill and employ as many as 1,400 is coming closer to fruition.

The chief executive of that company negotiating with the state has told Russian media some agreements have already been reached and that the plant will be built pending regulatory approval.

Viktor Rashnikov, CEO of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK), told the Russian news organization RIA Novosti that he hopes the remaining requirements can be completed by the end of 2007.

Representatives from the state and the company are scheduled to resume negotiations in Ohio the week of Sept. 17. The plant could employ up to 1,400.

The media report did not indicate a specific location in Ohio, but in July a source close to the situation told The Ironton Tribune the company was eyeing Scioto County at a site close to the SunCoke Energy plant in Haverhill. Other officials have since made public statements confirming Haverhill as the location.

Knoxville, Tenn.-based SunCoke Energy is in the process of a $230 million expansion to its coke plant. Coke is a necessary product in the steel-making process.

Melissa Ament, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Development, said the meeting later this month is to continue discussions that began in July when Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Director of Economic Development Steve Shoney flew to Russia to meet with Rashnikov.

Arnett said she could provide no further details.

If the parties can come to terms, the company is expected to build a steel plant that would produce automobile body sheets.

MMK is the largest enterprise of the Russian steel industry and accounts for about 20 percent of all steel products sold on the domestic market, according to its Web site.

MMK is a fully integrated steel-making operation and produces the widest range of steel products among steel producers in Russia. About half the company’s output is exported worldwide.

The company is located in Magnitogorsk, a mining and industrial city located by the Ural River in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. It rests in the southern portion of the Ural Mountains.

During his recent trip to Ohio University Southern, Gov. Ted Strickland said he could not comment on the matter, saying only, “I’m crossing my fingers.”