February 6, 2019 at 4:17 PM 9 min read

Ohio EPA Issues Permit For Ashtabula Pig Iron Plant

Petmin USA plans to begin construction later this year of its $474 Million facility that will employ 110 full-time and 500+ construction workers

ASHTABULA, Ohio – Feb. 6, 2019 – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) today issued a final air emissions permit for Petmin USA’s proposed $474 million manufacturing facility in Ashtabula that will produce high-grade pig iron for the metal casting industry. The plant will meet and abide by OEPA’s air quality standards. The project remains contingent upon final approval of incentives at the state and local level.

Bradley Doig, Petmin USA President and CEO, said the company was looking forward to breaking ground and constructing the nation’s first facility manufacturing this type of high-grade pig iron.

The plant will be located on 30 acres of lakefront property at the Pinney Dock Terminal in Ashtabula.

“Petmin is very excited to be bringing our company to Ashtabula and the Northeast Ohio region,” Doig said. “We selected Ashtabula for a number of reasons, including access to a port, manageable electric and natural gas costs and proximity to our future customers. We believe that this world-class facility producing this high-specification pig iron for the first time in the USA will put Ashtabula firmly on the map for future commercial growth.”

He credited the collaboration demonstrated by state and local partners as part of the decision to locate in Ashtabula.    

“We were incredibly impressed by the collaboration and support demonstrated by our public and private partners at all levels, including Team NEO, the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, the City of Ashtabula, the Ashtabula County Port Authority, and many others,” Doig said. “Their commitment and thorough assessment of the project was seminal to our decision to locate our facility in Ashtabula. In addition, the support we have received from the key utilities suppliers has been equally professional and impressive.”

With the granting of the air permit by OEPA, Doig said the company plans to break ground this year. It will take two years to build the plant, which could be operational as early as 2021.

Benefits of Petmin addition to Ashtabula/NEO economy

Greg Myers, Director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, has worked on facilitating Petmin’s decision to locate the facility in Ashtabula. The plant will provide a significant and sustainable boost to the local economy.

“This project will be a major shot in the arm for the economy of Ashtabula County and the surrounding area,” Myers said. “It will create high-quality manufacturing jobs here, pump millions of dollars annually into our local economy, support new business spending and generate tax revenues. This project will also result in this type of iron being American-made instead of having to rely upon foreign production.”

The company selected Ashtabula from 11 potential North American sites. The plant will employ 110 full-time workers and generate an annual payroll of $6.6 million. Petmin USA estimates a minimum of 500 construction workers will be required for the project.

Petmin USA is committed to hiring local workers. These jobs will have a “multiplier effect” by creating the opportunity for local companies to supply goods and services to the plant and its workforce.

According to estimates prepared by the Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, the project is expected to generate more than $35 million dollars of additional spending within the County during the two-year construction period, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars of local tax revenues. The operation of the Petmin plant is expected to support more than 300 additional jobs in the area. The tax impacts from the Petmin plant are expected to be in the millions of dollars annually.

Sean Ratican, Executive Director of the Ashtabula County Port Authority, said the Kinder Morgan Pinney docks area is an excellent location for Petmin.

“We have been working on attracting this project for nearly four years now,” Ratican said. “We are excited to see that it is coming to fruition. The Ashtabula location is logistically advantageous. It offers international shipping access, direct rail access and close proximity to highways. With the availability of water and gas, this is a perfect location. We are extremely pleased to be working with the Petmin group. This will be a very good fit for Ashtabula on many levels, and this project will stimulate a lot of additional growth for our county and region.”

The Petmin Ashtabula plant will be the first producer of its kind in the USA.

The plant will be the first in the U.S. to produce high-purity nodular pig iron (NPI), a niche commodity that is low in manganese, sulphur and phosphorous. The metal casting industry requires the product in order to produce ductile iron, a unique engineering alloy used in the manufacture of cars, trucks, trains, appliances, pipes, wind turbines, medical devices, defense products, toys and more.

The majority of the plant’s customers are located in the Great Lakes region,” Doig said.

Metal casting is a key segment of the U.S. manufacturing economy. “It is a $33 billion industry that provides nearly 200,000 American jobs,” Doig added. “The grade of pig iron to be produced by the Petmin plant in Ashtabula is currently imported from countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Brazil. “

Plant designed to be efficient and environmentally conscious

The main raw material, iron ore pellets, will be delivered by self-unloading vessels to Pinney Dock. The pellets will be transferred via conveyor and charged into the Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) module, where the pellets are converted into hot DRI. The resultant hot DRI is then charged directly to an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) for smelting into liquid iron, followed by casting into NPI ingots for sale.

Ashtabula City Manager James Timonere said the facility will be very efficient and compare well against existing plants internationally.

“It’s going to compete globally and it’s also going to be designed and constructed in a manner that is environmentally-conscious,” Timonere said “We want business development in our city that takes the welfare of our residents and environmental concerns into account, and Petmin is doing just that.”

Issuance of the permit follows a thorough OEPA review of the proposed plant and a Dec. 20, 2018 public hearing in Ashtabula.