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HarbisonWalker International Plans Fairfield, Alabama, Refractory Plant

HarbisonWalker International, the largest supplier of refractory products and services in North America, will invest approximately $25 million in its closed property in Fairfield, Alabama. The project is expected to create 50 jobs.

The facility, located at 2595 Ensley-Pleasant Grove Road, will be converted into a manufacturing, service, and distribution hub for steel customers in the southern United States. Construction will begin during the first quarter of 2022, and the 200,000 square foot facility is expected to open before the end of 2022.

"After considering several location options, we are pleased to become a part of the Fairfield - Birmingham business community in Jefferson County again and bring jobs to the region. The location is ideal for delivering quality refractory products and high-value services to our customers' growing steel operations in the southern U.S.," said Carol Jackson, Chairman and CEO, HarbisonWalker International.

HWI's proposed new plant will produce world-class magnesia-carbon brick refractories specifically engineered to maximize efficiency and performance in critical steel-making applications like steel ladles and low-emission electric arc furnaces (EAFs). Initially, production will add approximately 15,000 metric tons annually and ultimately up to 30,000 metric tons as additional equipment is added by 2023.

"The fundamentals for manufacturing and distribution success remain solid in the Fairfield area of Birmingham, and that's evident by HarbisonWalker International returning to build a southern hub for its refractory business," said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, which worked with the company on this project. "Our distribution network and workforce are strong and will support future opportunities for this global company to grow."

In 2019, HWI's closure of its Fairfield plant was in direct response to the company's entrepreneurial business decision to exit its Carbon Bake brick products line of business due to the decline of the aluminum carbon bake market in North America and increasing product production costs. During the past several years, the company has invested in its Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia, and Ontario facilities, which also produce products used in steelmaking.

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