AK Steel's (NYSE: AKS) Chairman, President and CEO James L. Wainscott said that the ceremonial bricklaying event for a new SunCoke Energy Inc. plant in Middletown, Ohio, held today, represents a milestone event for AK Steel and for the Middletown community.
The event marked the initial construction phase of SunCoke's $360 million plant located adjacent to AK Steel's Middletown Works. Once completed, the state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly, heat-recovery coke battery will be capable of supplying AK Steel with about 550,000 tons of metallurgical coke annually. In addition, the new plant will recover the waste heat from the coking process to generate approximately 50 megawatts of electrical power each year, or about 25% of Middletown Works' electricity requirement.
"Our long-term agreement with SunCoke Energy to supply AK Steel with coke and electrical power is one of the most forward-looking commitments by our company in recent years," said Mr. Wainscott. "The new SunCoke plant will play a vital role in the future competitiveness of our Middletown Works by providing a stable and competitive supply of coke for our blast furnace."
Mr. Wainscott also acknowledged the efforts of government and community leaders in helping to make the project a reality, saying, "We greatly appreciate the exceptional support of Governor Ted Strickland, Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich, and Congressman John Boehner, along with many other state and local elected officials, community leaders and union representatives."
AK Steel's board of directors previously approved a 20-year supply contract with SunCoke Energy, Inc. to provide AK Steel with metallurgical-grade coke and electrical power from the new plant. The agreement will help AK Steel achieve its goal of more fully integrating its raw material supply.
Metallurgical-grade coke is produced from blends of coal, and is necessary as a fuel and a chemical reducing agent in the production of molten iron in a blast furnace. AK Steel operates coke batteries in Middletown, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky, but must purchase about 30 percent of its annual coke requirements on the open market.
The project has created hundreds of temporary construction jobs, and there will be approximately 85 new full-time jobs when the plant is in operation.