HomeGAA in the MediaNewsArchiveFelman restarts W. Va. silicomanganese plant


July 1, 2014
By Bob Matyi

Felman restarts W. Va. silicomanganese plant

Felman Production has restarted one of three furnaces at its idled 105,000 mt/year silicomanganese plant in New Haven, West Virginia, and a United Steelworkers union official said the first furnace was up and running around 12:30 p.m. EDT.

Separately, the company said it was "immediately" resuming operations at the plant. The restart came a day earlier than Roy Martin, vice president of USW Local 5171, had predicted earlier this week. "We had a change in plans on our startup," Martin said. "We started up our first out of three furnaces today at 12:30 p.m. Everything went well so far."

Felman's plant was idled at the end of the second quarter last year.

Until now, Felman has been reticent to disclose when the plant would resume production. But a new power supply agreement with Appalachian Power, an American Electric Power subsidiary, was filed late on June 30 with the West Virginia Public Service Commission.

Felman, a subsidiary of Florida-based Georgian American Alloys, said in a statement the special rate was "a necessary component in enabling the ongoing economic viability of Felman's New Haven manufacturing plant."

The new power arrangement, initially approved by the PSC in late March, allows the plant a discount of up to $9 million annually on its electricity costs, ostensibly enabling the facility to be more competitive with other silicomanganese producers around the world.

Mordechai "Motti" Korf, Felman's CEO, said he was "very pleased that we have been able to successfully restart operations. Our special rate provides us with the necessary flexibility to continue operating during periods of weak commodity prices, while ensuring that we pay more than 100% of variable costs over the life of the contract" with APCo.

Korf thanked the PSC, APCo and the USW "for their efforts to strengthen Felman's long-term viability."

According to Martin, the company intends to start a second furnace in August while Felman has not disclosed plans to restart the third furnace.

The domestic market for silicomanganese is about 400,000 mt/year, meaning the New Haven plant represents about 25% of the market when operating at full capacity.