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As published in Toledo Business Journal - July 1, 2014

Lima’s PotashCorp facility. Photo by HA Dorsten, Inc.

Lima’s PotashCorp facility
Photo by HA Dorsten, Inc.

Plant eyed for $190M expansion

Lima’s PotashCorp facility is being considered for a major expansion in the near future. The Saskatchewan-owned fertilizer manufacturer is considering investing $190 million in a new railroad yard at the site, which would, according to the company, create six new jobs, and add $342,720 to the facility’s existing annual payroll of approximately $15.5 million. The rail yard, if constructed, would lie slightly west of Interstate 75.

The Ohio State Controlling Board (OSCB) recently approved the disbursement of a $900,000 grant to help cover the cost of road improvements surrounding the Shawnee Township plant. The improvements include repaving to compensate for an increased amount of traffic, drainage, lighting, and traffic signals.

“We are a proud member of the Lima region, employing more than 130 people and contributing locally through purchasing and community investments,” according to a company spokesperson.

PotashCorp is the world’s largest crop nutrient supplier, according to the business, and plays an integral role in global food production. The name “potash” is derived from salt-based potassium compounds, which are produced worldwide at amounts reaching approximately 30 millions tons a year and used mostly for fertilizers.

“With global population rising and diets improving in developing countries, crop nutrients such as potash, phosphate, and nitrogen offer a responsible and practical solution to help produce the food we need, from the land we have,” a company statement advised. “With operations and business interests in seven countries, we are a global company and a key player in meeting the growing challenge to feed the world.”

The PotashCorp Lima facility operates a large nitrogen processing plant that makes a range of products, namely various ammonia, urea, and nitrogen solutions, including nitric acid. Many of these solid and liquid items are used in the agriculture sector, and these products are also used as key ingredients in selected manufacturing processes.

The Lima facility, however, is just one of a number of options Potash is considering. According to Lima facility plant manager Todd Sutton, the company is examining options involving its other plants located in Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

The Augusta, Georgia facility is, like Lima, primarily a nitrogen-based facility and employs almost the same amount of people as Lima (130 employees in all). The Geismar, Louisiana facility operates both nitrogen and phosphate, while the Aurora, North Carolina facility produces phosphate exclusively.

According to Sutton, there has been no indication from the Saskatchewan headquarters as to which facility would receive the expansion investment. All things as of now, Sutton indicated, are in the planning stages.

“This is a large project, so it’s going to take awhile,” Sutton stated, “but we’re performing our due diligence. We’re still working through the beginning stages.”

News of this possible expansion comes approximately a year after the facility installed a new office complex on site which houses an administration facility, maintenance shop, and materials shop.

The company invested $25 million and 182,000 hours of construction over a four-year period for the complex, which was, according to Sutton, “designed to be one integral building.” $20 million was spent on the construction of the administration and maintenance sections, whereas $5 million was allotted toward the materials shop, Sutton noted.

 

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