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What is it with Ohio and steel projects?


A greenfield boom may be in the works in the middle of the Rust Belt.

At least two billion-dollar projects are being considered in southern Ohio, bucking recent trends of foreign-owned or -funded mills setting up shop in the southeast United States.

But southern Ohio has several factors in its favor It's not too far from traditional auto markets in the Great Lakes area; the region has good rail and road infrastructure; and the Ohio River provides access to the "new domestic" automakers in the South.

Russia's OAO Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works is considering building a steel mill in Haverhill, Ohio. Plans released as part of an air permit application suggest that the mill could one day produce about 2.5 million tonnes of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized steel coil annually as well as advanced stainless grades.

And a group of unnamed European investors reportedly is considering a new mill south of Columbus, Ohio. The $1.2-billion project would target infrastructure instead of automobile markets, officials involved with the project have told local media.

But there is no guarantee that either of the much-hyped projects will materialize.

MMK chairman Victor Rashnikov has said that his company also is considering a location in Quebec, and it might even drop its greenfield plans in favor of a bid for AK Steel Corp., West Chester, Ohio. Officials with the potential Columbus-area project have said that sites in other states also are being considered.

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