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Published: Friday, 10/26/2007

British firm eyes site in Delta for $95M plant

The proposed ZincOx Resources plant in Delta would extract
zinc and pig iron from steel dust obtained from nearby mills.
The proposed ZincOx Resources plant in Delta would extract zinc and pig iron from steel dust obtained from nearby mills.

A British firm intent on building a $95 million recycling plant that would extract zinc and pig iron from steel dust and other waste materials is focusing on a 17-acre site close to two steel mills near Delta in Fulton County.

ZincOx Resources PLC, of Surrey, England, wants to start construction on a U.S. plant, which would eventually create 50 jobs, in the first quarter of 2008.

The project would take about 18 months to complete.

"Delta is the preferred site, but we have other sites under consideration," said Tony Rhymer, ZincOx's U.S. projects manager. Mr. Rhymer, who is based in Belgium, recently gave Fulton County officials an overview of his plans.

ZincOx has nearly finished feasibility studies, and while the company has looked elsewhere in Ohio, including Walbridge, and in other states, the Delta site has several advantages, Mr. Rhymer said.

Delta is home to North Star Blue Scope Steel and Worthington Steel mini-mills, which produce good quantities of electric arc furnace dust that are excellent for zinc recycling.

The area also has an available, skilled workforce, Mr. Rhymer said.

Also, Fulton County and Ohio have given ZincOx positive signs that they want the operation to be located in Delta, he added.

In August, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 10-year tax credit worth $192,100 to ZincOx if it builds on the Fulton County site.

In its application, the firm said workers will be paid $14.50 an hour on average.

Conversely, the company has given Fulton County officials signs it wants to locate the operation there.

In a presentation made to county officials, it stated the firm would be called Zinc & Iron Recycling of Ohio Inc. Provided was a detailed drawing and plan for the facility.

The company has filed for permits with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and sought easements from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so that it can proceed with construction as soon as possible.

Fulton County Economic Development director Lisa Arend said county officials believe ZincOx wants the Fulton County site and that a decision will occur in about a month.

"We've got a pretty good shot at it. There's just a couple of small things that we have to work out regarding site development," Ms. Arend said.

The foreign firm also will build a plant in Aliaga, Turkey. Both operations will recover zinc and pig iron from waste materials and ship their products to a plant in Sauget, Ill., near St. Louis, that ZincOx bought in June, 2006.

That plant, called Big River Zinc, smelts and refines impure zinc concentrate into commercial grade metal used for various purposes.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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