Local plants invest

Chemical Valley plants invest

By Cathy Dobson from www.theobserver.ca   The Observer 

Two large industrial projects that help secure the future of H. C. Starck in Sarnia and Nova Chemicals’ Mooretown site are moving ahead with assistance from provincial loans announced Thursday.

H.C. Starck is receiving a $4.14-million loan to complete construction on North America’s first high-grade metal powder processing facility.

A $10-million loan is approved for Nova Chemicals’ Mooretown plant, where the company is spending about $100 million to update and expand its low-density polyethylene production.

The two investments save 160 jobs at Nova, and create 10 new jobs and save another 29 at H. C. Starck, officials said.

“The manufacturing sector in southern Ontario has been hard hit by a worldwide recession and … there are things the provincial government can do to make it easier for business,” said Economic Development and Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello, who made brief stops at each plant site.

A government program called the Advanced Manufacturing Investment Strategy (AMIS), provides repayable loans to innovative industries, she told a gathering of politicians, company officials and workers in Mooretown.

At Nova’s Mooretown site, the company was faced with either replacing its 30-year-old equipment or shutting down its low density polyethylene production, said CEO Randy Woelfel.

“The old equipment is at the end of its life. Replacing it with what is state-of-art will enable us to start the clock again,” he said. “Frankly, without this kind of investment, Nova would have faced some very tough decisions about the future of (the Moore) site.”

A new hyper-compressor imported from Nuovo Pignone in Italy will increase production more than 50% and extend the site’s viability by at least 20 years, he said.

“As a machine, it’s the biggest and most modern of its class, and it’s right at the heart of the process,” Woelfel said. “This investment really brings us back into the game.”

Construction is about 55% complete with production expected to start in September.

Pupatello also stopped at H.C. Starck on Vidal Street to congratulate company brass for resuming work on a manufacturing facility that will be unique in North America.

H.C. Starck produces tungsten carbide for drillbits and nickel hydroxide for rechargeable batteries. Its new facility will process high grade metal powder used for cutting tools in the oil, gas and mining sectors.

Currently, the company ships unrefined metal powder to Germany to be processed. When the new plant opens in Sarnia, all processes will be done onsite,

H.C. Starck started construction of the $16.4-million plant in 2008 but suspended the project last year when the global recession hit and the North American hardmetal market declined.

“At the time cash was short,” said managing director Carol Gilmurray. “I think it would have been difficult to move forward without provincial assistance.”

Observer Article ID# 2526271

Posted in: Headlines