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Globe files lawsuit in air permit fight

Mar 25, 2014 | 03:16 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  Globe Speacialty Metals, Globe Metallurgical, air permit, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, MDEQ, Mississippi Silicon, Dave Tuten, Rima Vicintin

CHICAGO — A subsidiary of Globe Specialty Metals Inc. has accused environmental officials in Mississippi of violating its constitutional rights by issuing an air permit to potential domestic competitor Mississippi Silicon LLC.

Beverly, Ohio-based Globe Metallurgical Inc. (GMI) claims that the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) should not have issued a permit for Mississippi Silicon’s proposed greenfield silicon metal manufacturing plant in Tishomingo County, Miss., because it was not clear whether the facility will meet air pollution standards or use the best-available pollution-control technology.

Globe Metallurgical, part of Miami-based silicon metal producer Globe Specialty Metals, also blasted the MDEQ for denying its request for a formal hearing on the matter “in violation of law,” according to documents filed in Hinds County (Miss.) Chancery Court.

“MDEQ’s denial of GMI’s request for a formal hearing regarding the permit is arbitrary and capricious, is beyond the power of the MDEQ to make, and violates statutory and/or constitutional rights of GMI,” Globe said in its complaint, asking the court to reverse MDEQ’s decision to deny the hearing.

The MDEQ declined to hold an evidentiary hearing on Mississippi Silicon’s air permit because Globe’s request was “not timely filed,” according to a Feb. 18 letter from the department to Globe.

An MDEQ spokesman said March 25 that the agency has not responded to Globe’s complaint and referred AMM to the Feb. 18 letter, declining further comment.

Mississippi Silicon president and chief executive officer David Tuten did not respond to a request for comment March 25.

The battle between the parties may hinge on a matter of minutes.

Globe said that on Feb. 12 it requested a formal hearing on Mississippi Silicon’s air permit. The MDEQ in its letter said Globe didn’t request the hearing soon enough because the permit was issued on Nov. 27 and accepted by a permit board on Dec. 10—and that Globe’s plea thus missed the 30-day deadline.

Globe contends its hearing request was made in time because draft minutes of the Dec. 10 meeting were not approved until Jan. 14. “The Mississippi Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public boards speak only through their minutes, and their actions are evidenced solely by entries on those minutes,” the company said in court documents.

Mississippi Silicon plans to build a $200-million facility expected to produce 36,000 tonnes of silicon metal annually once fully operational.

Globe operates a silicon metal plant with two furnaces about 200 miles southeast of Tishomingo County in Selma, Ala. (, Feb. 13).

Globe and its subsidiaries are currently the only merchant suppliers of silicon metal in the United States. That status would be challenged by Mississippi Silicon, a partnership between the Vicintin family, which owns Bocaiúva, Brazil-based ferroalloy and nonferrous producer Rima Industrial SA, and Clean Tech I LLC, a U.S. investment group whose members include steel industry veteran John Correnti.

Some of Mississippi Silicon’s top executives, including Tuten, are former Globe employees.

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