ArcelorMittal said Monday it will invest $50 million to revitalize its idled Monessen coke plant and restart the facility in 2014, five years after the steelmaker took it out of production.
The Luxembourg-based steel producer said about 113 production workers will be hired when the plant gets back into production. Plant manager Paul Champagne said about 67 people currently work at the plant performing maintenance and other duties.
He said word of the project "has been a huge morale booster."
ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, purchased the plant for $160 million in October 2008 from Koppers, just as the global recession began a severe steel industry slump. The company idled the Monessen plant the following May.
Mr. Champagne said the $50 million will be used to modernize pollution control equipment at the plant, which produces a baked coal that steel producers use in blast furnaces. The upgrades also will make the plant safer and more competitive, he said. Capacity of the plant, currently 370,000 tons of coke annually, will not be increased.
The company is seeking the permits needed to begin on the project. Production is expected to resume by May 2014, when the plant will employ about 180, Mr. Champagne said.
He said union workers who were laid off when production was halted in May 2009 have the right to reclaim their jobs when the plant reopens. But some of them may have moved on to other jobs or retired, he said.
Mr. Champagne said the project is not connected with the tentative approval this month of a new three-year labor agreement between the company and the United Steelworkers union. The proposed contract covers nearly 14,000 workers at ArcelorMittal plants in the United States. But Mr. Champagne said the Monessen plan is covered by a separate labor agreement with the USW that was renegotiated last year and expires in September 2014.
ArcelorMittal's announcement comes as construction is nearly completed on a new project at U.S. Steel's Clairton plant, the nation's largest coke producer. U.S. Steel said the new energy efficient, environmentally advanced battery, capable of producing 960,000 tons of coke annually, is expected to be finished near the end of the year.businessnews - neigh_westmoreland
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