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Construction For Eastern Illinois Fertilizer Plant Delayed

Construction on a massive fertilizer plant in eastern Illinois has been delayed until next year.

Mnet 122895 Fertilizerplant

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Construction on a massive fertilizer plant in eastern Illinois has been delayed until next year, the company said Friday.

Cronus Chemicals initially planned to begin building near Tuscola in 2015 but now says it anticipates building sometime next year, spokesman Dave Lundy said. The plant, which will produce nitrogen-based fertilizers urea and ammonia, is expected to employ about 175 people full-time, as well as about 2,000 construction workers.

Cronus also now lists the cost of the project as $1.9 billion on its website; originally construction was to cost $1.4 billion. Lundy says the larger figure reflects finance costs, adding that construction costs have not increased.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted the company a one-year extension on its air permit. Construction now must start by October 2017. No date has been set but Lundy said the company expects building to start "well before" then.

Lundy attributed the delay to, among other things, ongoing negotiations with contractors.

"Everything is actually going fine," he said. "Obviously they're slower — with big projects things happen slower than one might like them to do."

Brian Moody is executive director of Tuscola Economic Development, Inc., which works to develop the economy in the town of 4,500 people. He said his confidence that Cronus will get the plant built is "strong."

"We understand that there will continue to be challenges but we are committed to helping Cronus achieve their goal of beginning construction in Tuscola," Moody said in an email to The Associated Press.

Cronus is owned by a group of Swiss and Turkish investors, and has a U.S. headquarters in Chicago.

The project will be built on the site that was once considered for the now-defunct FutureGen clean coal project.

The company chose the Tuscola site in 2014 over a location in Iowa. The state of Illinois agreed to provide a package of incentives that have thus far not been publicly disclosed.

No opening date is set, though Cronus' website indicates the plant should take about 37 months to build.

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