Study could be next step to reviving steel mill plans

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2012

PORTSMOUTH — The developers of a proposed electric arc steel mill want to finance a feasibility study in an effort to push the project forward.

Representatives from New Steel International met with Scioto County business leaders and officials, State Rep. Terry Johnson and Lawrence County Commissioner Les Boggs on Thursday in Portsmouth to discuss the progress of the project.

“They are trying to raise money for a study,” Boggs said. “Investors in banks a lot of time don’t mind investing in something this big, but they have to see studies.”

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The study could cost a couple hundred thousand dollars and the funds would come from the private sector, the commissioner said.

About four years ago a Russian steelmaker had plans to build a mill on acreage in Haverhill near the Lawrence County line. The next year the company pulled out. The next plan was to bring in another steel mill plus a German-based forging plant that would work as a satellite component to the project by using the energy generated by the mill.

However, the deal with the German also plant fell through. On Monday developers were to meet with AEP in an effort to interest the Ohio utility in purchasing the energy from the mill. Earlier they had asked for help from Gov. John Kasich, who reportedly said he found it inappropriate to lobby for the mill with AEP.

Kasich has also said New Steel must raise its own private capital before it could expect state assistance for the project.

“Business leaders went to see the governor a week and a half ago and they were able to present the project to the governor one-on-one,” Boggs said. “There are a few hurdles to accomplish. I think the people of both counties and business leaders are committed to giving it the best shot. It definitely, in my opinion, carries a lot of potential. It is going to take everybody coming together regardless of political affiliation to get this done.”