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EPA issues air permit for pig-iron plant in Ashtabula, hundreds of jobs could soon follow

February 7, 2019

EPA issues air permit for pig-iron plant in Ashtabula, hundreds of jobs could soon follow

ASHTABULA, Ohio – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final air emissions permit for a proposed $475 million high-grade pig-iron plant projected to bring more than 100 jobs to Ashtabula.

Ohio EPA issued the final air emissions permit-to-install Wednesday to Petmin USA Inc., whose parent company is based in South Africa. The company’s CEO, Bradley Doig, said the plant would be the first to produce this type of pig iron in the U.S.

Doig explained that the facility will make a high-purity nodular pig iron, or NPI, “a niche commodity that is low in manganese, sulphur (or sulfur) and phosphorous.” He said NPI is essential in the manufacturing of many products, including cars and other vehicles, appliances and medical devices.

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

“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,” he said, adding that Ashtabula was chosen from among 11 potential sites in North America.

The company still must obtain water pollution control permits before beginning construction and also before starting-up the facility. Also, the EPA air permit is subject to appeal, should anyone object. Petmin also needs to get a number of state and local funding incentives.

That aside, the company said it plans to break ground this year on the plant located on a 30-acre site at Pinney Dock Terminal. Doig said the plant could become operational by 2021. He projects another 500-plus jobs will be created constructing the plant. Company officials say Petmin intends to establish its U.S. headquarters in Ashtabula.

JobsOhio is among the entities willing to provide support for the project, provided it receives all the permits and other requirements necessary for the plant to be built.

“Petmin’s planned investment would bring a world-class pig iron production facility and 110 new jobs to Northeast Ohio,” Dana A. Saucier, JobsOhio’s vice president and head of economic development, said in a release. “We and our partners at Team NEO are excited Petmin chose Ashtabula to invest in this advanced technology that will support its customers throughout North America.”

Christine Nelson, Team NEO’s vice president of projects, sites and talent, said the new plant would add to Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing base.

“Manufacturing continues to be an important part of the economy, making up 20 percent of our gross regional product,” she said in an email. “Petmin’s planned investment is a game changer for the Ashtabula port area and demonstrates the strategic assets the site and region offered to attract this South African based company to Northeast Ohio.”

Local officials are also looking forward to the project.

“It’s going to compete globally and it’s also going to be designed and constructed in a manner that is environmentally-conscious,” Ashtabula City Manager James Timonere said in a release. “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.”

Ohio EPA held a public meeting about the project in Ashtabula last December. In issuing the final permit, the agency took into account concerns raised by residents. Some were focused on whether emissions from the plant would be routinely and adequately tested to ensure that it is in compliance with regulations.

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