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New plant planned for Jackson County

CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin plans to announce today that Carbonyx International USA will construct a carbon alloy manufacturing plant in Jackson County -- a move that could boost the local economy and the state's coal industry.

The first phase of the multimillion-dollar project, to be announced at a morning press conference at the state Capitol, will lead to the creation of about 60 permanent jobs and hundreds of temporary construction jobs, multiple sources confirmed to the Daily Mail this week.

However, the overall Carbonyx project could involve more than $250 million in capital investments and create more than 200 additional jobs in coming years.

Carbonyx plans to build the plant near the Jackson County Maritime and Industrial Center in Millwood, just south of Ravenswood, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The sources asked to remain anonymous, as they were not yet authorized to speak publicly about the plan.

The plant will be built on 56 acres of currently empty land along the Ohio River. Carbonyx is buying the land from Century Aluminum; Century's idled aluminum smelter is located north of the proposed plant site.

Carbonyx plans to use the site to produce Cokonyx, a carbon alloy material that can serve as a replacement for traditional coke in the steel manufacturing process.

Traditional coke is made by baking coal at very high temperatures -- a process that is very dirty and can have severe environmental consequences.

Carbonyx, however, claims its proprietary "Carbon Allow Synthesis Process" blends coal with other carbon-based substances in a controlled environment, producing very few emissions.

The process was developed on a small scale at a plant in Plano, Texas. The company has partnered with U.S. Steel to implement the process at a plant in Gary, Ind. The process is also being used at plant in Ardmore, Okla., and another plant in India.

Officials hope the process creates a new, domestic market for the state's metallurgical coal reserves.

One source called it a "breakthrough technology for steelmaking."

If the Jackson County plant proves successful, and it continues to expand over the next five years, Carbonyx could end up purchasing more than 1.5 million tons of metallurgical coal each year.

"Not only is this a great investment in Jackson County, it has the potential to have a big impact on the state's coal industry," another source said.

Sources said Carbonyx hopes to build four manufacturing "modules" at the Millwood site. Each will be built in stages, with the first one producing about 60 permanent jobs. New jobs would be created as new modules are built in the coming years.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials have already reviewed some permits for the plant and designated it a "minor source emitter."

A loan application for the project is on the state Economic Development Authority's agenda for its November meeting, which will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in Charleston.

A Carbonyx spokesperson could not be reached for comment, however, a "Ravenswood, WV" listing already appears under the "Jobs" section of the company's website.

"Please inquire at a later time for current job postings," the listing says.

This is the third significant economic development announcement by the governor in ten days.

Last Tuesday, he announced the creation of 250 jobs at the Allevard Sogefi USA plant in Prichard. On Thursday, he announced Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht is exploring building an ethylene cracker and three plastics plants in Wood County.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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