COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A Russian steel company pondering building a $1 billion steel mill in southern Ohio has sought a permit from the state's environmental agency.
An air-emissions permit application was filed Thursday with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency by a consulting firm on behalf of Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel, for a site in Haverhill, about 100 miles south of Columbus.
The details of the application, which typically outlines a company's plan to limit soot and emissions, were not released because the company, citing trade secrets, requested it be given ''broad confidentiality,'' the EPA said.
The agency's lawyers planned to look over the documents to see what considerations, if any, should be given for confidentiality, Ohio EPA spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas said.
The application does not necessarily mean Magnitogorsk, also known as MMK, has settled on southern Ohio as the location for the plant, but it is a sign the company's interest is serious because the paperwork requires a filing fee, said Mike Locker, a New York-based steel industry consultant.
Last month, Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher met with Russian billionaire Victor Rashnikov, who controls MMK. The trio discussed the project and toured a potential building site along the Ohio River.
At the time, Rashnikov said he hoped to have the permits by November. The approval process usually takes months, but state officials are trying to expedite the process, the environmental agency said.
The mill, which would melt steel slabs to be customized for automakers, would create 1,000 jobs in Scioto County. The Ohio River location is desirable because of its proximity to auto manufacturing operations in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, but MMK said it also was considering a site in Quebec, Canada.
The Ohio location is closer to the industry centers it would serve and makes more sense for MMK, said Charles Bradford, a metals analyst with Soleil Securities.
It was unclear if MMK also had sought permits for a Canadian site Rashnikov visited in March.
Rumblings of the steel company's interest in building an Ohio plant began in late July when Fisher, also the head of the Ohio Department of Development, led a group of state economic officials to Russia to meet with Magnitogorsk executives.