Times Leader Staff Writer
YORKVILLE - Though there have been no readily visible signs of life at the 100-year-old steel mill on Public Road in Yorkville since operations there ceased and the workforce was laid off almost a year ago by then owner RG Steel, current owner Esmark Steel Group says within two weeks it will have firm timeline details to share publicly about a restart plan.
This timetable is said to be key to an effort to get all the necessary resources in place in time for the two facilities in Yorkville to allow for production to be established in front of the negotiating period for annual tinplate contracts which are traditionally hammered out between mid-October and late November.
Esmark spokesman Bill Keegan confirmed Friday that Sewickley, Pa.-based Esmark Inc.'s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Bouchard is focused on getting the timeline for a restart of production at Yorkville pinned down within two weeks.
This revelation follows the completion just days ago of a sale of certain assets connected to the special bar quality operation at Esmark subsidiary Chicago Steel & Iron Bar. The sale was completed earlier this month.
"Obviously our next focus will be getting Yorkville fired up and ready for the 2014 tin season," Bouchard told national publication American Metal Market.
A predictable restart of the older mill, now known as the Ohio Cold Rolling Co., will be vital to Bouchard's overall operational plan to have OCRC be the main supplier of substrate steel for the tinplating operation at the nearby Ohio Coating Company, or OCC.
A successful restart at the older of the two steel facilities in Yorkville: the cold-rolling facility, is essential to the continuing success of the newer mill, OCC, a nearly 20 year old tin-plate operation, It was not part of the bankruptcy as RG Steel was not as a sole owner.
However, Bouchard was able to convince the leadership of RG's partner at OCC, the Korean steel company called TCC , to enter into the cold rolling facility purchase as a limited partner, and to allow his firm to be a partner in the tin operation.
Bouchard orchestrated the complexities of simultaneously closing the two purchases, and marked them with a public celebration a few days later to mark the turning point and to pave the way for the plant to have been restarted soon thereafter.
A major stumbling block was an unresolved EPA violation RG did not address.
One million dollars in Ohio EPA funds were secured for the remediation work which has not yet begun, but Esmark says is ready to be addressed as part of the details being set down in the timetable's structure.
United Steelworkers of America Yorkville Local 1223 President Jerry Conners said late Saturday "We would be very interested to learn the details if there is a timeline being established and what it would be."
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