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Zinc industry vets form new venture

Nov 06, 2013 | 07:00 PM | Jo Isenberg-O’Loughlin

Tags  Zinc Oxide, secondary zinc, top dross, galvanizing dross, Ed Smith, Russ Robinson, Barry Hamilton, Ron Crittenson Jimmy Kight

NEW YORK — A group of zinc industry veterans sees a unique opportunity in the pending shutdown of Horsehead Holding Corp.’s Monaca, Pa., zinc production facility, and intends to capitalize.

The recently formed Zinc Oxide LLC will produce zinc oxide at a 40,000-tonne-per-year facility in Dickson, Tenn. "Supplier changes have created an opportunity for a new company to fill a gap in the market for the need for zinc oxide," Ed Smith, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement.

"The 40,000-tonne figure represents four furnace lines," he told AMM. "We are going to bring one furnace up in June of next year and then expect to bring an additional furnace up every 30 to 60 days after that."

The new 150,000-square-foot plant, located on a 58-acre site formerly occupied by an aluminum smelter, will use muffle furnace technology to produce zinc oxide grades for the rubber, tire, chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, oil additives, electronics and fertilizer markets, among others.

The site’s central location will help reduce shipping costs for most consumers, Smith said, adding that both inbound raw materials and outbound product shipments will be handled by truck and rail.

"We are going to be covering all of North America, but the Southeast will be our major market," he said, noting that four new tire plants are scheduled to begin operations in the region over the next 12 to 24 months.

"Zinc oxide aids in the vulcanization process," Smith said. "It makes tires cure faster."

A combination of virgin and secondary material will feed the company’s furnaces. "Roughly 30 percent will be secondaries," he said. "The secondaries we will be using include remelt, kirksite dies, zinc die cast, top dross and others. The other 70 percent will be either special high-grade or high-grade zinc metal."

Industry estimates peg Horsehead’s annual zinc oxide production capacity in the 74,000-tonne range. "If you take all the increases from the existing suppliers it is nowhere near that," Smith said. "That is why we feel the 40,000 (tonnes) we are adding will bring the market into a more equal supply/demand balance. ... Best case, I think the market is going to be tight, more likely in deficit until we bring up our furnaces."

Zinc Oxide has a senior management team with more than 130 years of combined experience in the zinc oxide business. Other members of the team include chief executive officer Russ Robinson, president Barry Hamilton, senior vice president Ron Crittendon, and plant manager Jimmy Kight.

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