Indian firm looking at RG’s mill in Mingo

MINGO JUNCTION – Steelmakers from India are interested in restarting at least part of the silent RG Steel facility in Mingo Junction, which contains the $115 million electric arc furnace, according to the plant’s current owner.

Craig Slater, general counsel and vice president of Frontier Industrial, owner of the Mingo site, said several potential operators have looked at the plant, including some from India. Some India-based steel companies are Essar Steel, Jindal Steel and Tata Steel.

Local sources with ties to the steel industry have indicated Jindal Steel is very interested in the Mingo mill and that company representatives have made a number of trips to the area. A message left at Jindal’s offices in India was not immediately returned.

Essar Steel made a bid to purchase all the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. facilities in 2008, then owned by Esmark Inc., but United Steelworkers members eventually voted to sell to OAO Severstal for $4.7 million. Severstal later sold the plants to RG Steel, which filed for bankruptcy and liquidation last year.

“We know people are interested in what’s going on. We are willing to wait to see what kind of deal we can come up with,” Slater added.

Slater also noted the Mingo facility’s blast furnace does not appear to be part of its future.

“We removed the old ore bridge. None of the folks we have been talking to plan to use the blast furnace,” he said.

Slater’s company purchased the entire Mingo plant property, including the electric arc furnace, for $20 million as part of RG Steel’s liquidation. Since the summer, Slater has been working with a number of potential partners that could help reopen the plant.

The former RG Steel mill in Warren also remains idled, now under the ownership of BDM Warren Steel Holdings, which purchased the plant out of bankruptcy in August.

Thousands of tools, pieces of machinery and equipment were auctioned inside the Warren RG Steel mill last week, causing concern among local steelworkers and economic development experts. The blast furnace and castors were preserved, but questions still remain on the plant’s viability as owners continue their search for a new operator.

An investor group has expressed interest; however, there has been little word on progress in a purchase. Western Reserve Port Authority Executive Director Rose Ann DeLeon said Monday she has had no conversations with the group.

Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber vice president of government and media affairs Tony Paglia said Monday the chamber has met with one of the plant’s owners on several occasions, and will continue to do so while options are explored.