Petmin July 22, 2020 at 4:16 PM 10 min read

Construction to Begin Soon on $474 Million Ashtabula Pig Iron Manufacturing Facility

Project receives final approval from Ohio EPA; Project to bring 110 full-time and 500+ construction workers to Northeast Ohio community

Ashtabula – July 22, 2020 – The nation’s first manufacturing facility dedicated to the production of high-grade nodular pig iron used in the metal casting industry is gearing up to begin construction after receiving the final air permit from the Ohio EPA late last week. Once completed, the $474 million plant is expected to have a $6.6 million annual payroll, significant impact on the local economy and bring hundreds of jobs to Ashtabula.

Petmin USA President and CEO Bradley Doig said the project has received rigorous review from multiple local, state and federal agencies including the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Federal Homeland Security, Federal FAA, City of Ashtabula, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and is now in possession of all required permits to begin construction.

“We wish to thank the Ohio EPA North East District and Central Office teams for their continued professionalism, clarity of rule and efficient clear communication of these rules to the Petmin engineering teams throughout the application process over the past two years, both at a state and federal level,” Doig said.

Doig said the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the project’s progress from a timing perspective, particularly given that the equipment suppliers and engineers are global firms. “Our relationships are such, however, that we are managing the effects and hope to maintain our timelines with only minor project development delays,’’ he said.

Doig said the company has been incredibly impressed with the collaboration and support of local and state officials and that the company is pleased it selected Ashtabula and northeast Ohio for this investment in advanced technology not previously available in North America. The plant will be located on 30 acres of industrial property at the Pinney Dock Terminal at the Ashtabula port.

Fifteen sites were assessed across the U.S. and Canada and evaluated over a period of six years. Ashtabula was one of two short-listed sites. The city enhanced its chances of selection by achieving the capacity to supply our proposed facility with natural gas.

The plant will use natural gas and will not burn or use any coal. This natural gas process is significantly more environmentally friendly compared to the coal-fired facility originally envisaged. This will be further enhanced with the construction of a CO2 plant to be located adjacent to the Petmin facility.

“Ashtabula became Petmin’s favored site for reasons including excellent infrastructure and logistics, proximity to customer base, and competent, engaging local partners, in both the public and private sectors,” Doig said. “Petmin USA remains committed to ensuring delivery of a world-class facility to Ashtabula that we can all be proud of!”

The facility will translate into 650 construction jobs in the upcoming two years, and will create over 110 permanent jobs during the operational phase. This excludes jobs associated with the CO2 plant and infrastructure installed by partners.

A project labor agreement was signed in February 2020 with Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council (CBCTC). This is the umbrella organization for more than 29-member local unions working in the construction industry in the Greater Cleveland region.

“This construction project means two years of work for construction workers from throughout Northeast Ohio,’’ said David J. Wondolowski, Executive Secretary and Business Manager for the trades council. "Many of these workers will be local residents who will spend much of their paychecks in the Ashtabula area, so other businesses will benefit indirectly from this project.’'

Petmin is confident that this region offers competent resources given its industrial background. Many local residents working in this sector are currently located in remote areas outside the State of Ohio. This is supported by independent surveys, engagement with various local technical groups and interest received on the Petmin USA website portal.

Petmin will work with local recruitment agencies and the JobsOhio Talent Acquisition Services team in the upcoming months to ensure that its commitment to create 110 new local jobs is achieved within the next 18 months prior to plant commissioning.

The plant design includes Tenova’s HYL Energiron ZR technology and will convert 700,000 tons of iron ore pellets (shipped in via lake vessels) into 450,000 tons of premium nodular pig iron ingots. This niche commodity is currently imported by companies throughout the U.S. and elsewhere from a fragmented market in Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.

This premium niche commodity will be shipped to foundries located in the Great Lakes region, as well as to certain customers based in Europe. Nodular pig iron is a high-grade ore-based metallic that is low in impurities. It is a key strategic metallic component in the U.S. metal casting industry – circa 1900 foundries and 230,000 employees in a $33 billion a year industry vital to the US economy.

Investment to date

Doig said Petmin has invested approximately $60 million to date in this facility’s project development. This includes $20 million in the Ashtabula facility over the past two+ years in engineering and pre-construction activities.

"It has been wonderful to work with the representatives from Petmin and we are excited Ashtabula will be home to the only plant of this kind in North America,’’ said Jim Timonere, Ashtabula City Manager. “We appreciate the Ohio EPA reviewing their permit to ensure the plant will operate within the limits set forth by the EPA. I am anxious to see construction get under way."

Environmentally Conscientious Engineering Design

Petmin will use environmentally friendly, world class technology known by partnering with Tenova Core Inc. Tenova will provide guarantees with regard to environmental emissions, plant efficiencies and product quality. The plant will produce the lowest amount of CO2 emissions per ton of this type of product anywhere in the world.

Incentives

Petmin continues to be grateful for all the local community support and incentives offered by local institutions. A JobsOhio $10 million grant was issued in February for construction of the project. This is provided in the form of a $5 million Economic Development Grant and a $5 million Revitalization Grant, which will assist Petmin to begin construction of its $474 million plant. JobsOhio has remained a critical partner to Petmin throughout the development process. This is immensely appreciated.

"Our collective work with Team NEO and the Ashtabula Growth Partnership to bring a new natural gas pipeline to the county last year is a critical piece of infrastructure to Petmin's project,” said J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO. “We look forward to the new plant being built, which will lead to high-quality construction labor jobs as well as long-term operational jobs once the facility is complete.”

Further incentives include the Jobs Creation Tax Credit offered by the Ohio Development Services Agency, as well as the CRA (Community Reinvestment Area) Tax Incentive from the City of Ashtabula. These will certainly assist with the economics of such a project.

Our local project partners have continued to ensure Petmin’s awareness and sensitivity to the region’s history. We remain appreciative of the guidance and input received from all our stakeholders, including the community, as we navigate the path ahead together.

“Fortifying and expanding our base industries is critical to the long-term socio-economic health of Ashtabula County, and the Petmin project will do just that,’’ said Greg Myers, Executive Director of the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County. “The economic and tax benefits of the project will be far reaching, providing valuable economic resources to local businesses and governments, households, schools and philanthropic entities during the construction and permanent operations of the new facility. It has been a pleasure working with Petmin over the past several years and I am excited to have them as an engaged and trusted member of the Ashtabula County business community.’’