Globe Metals to reopen, creating 100 new jobs in Niagara Falls

The Buffalo News

Updated: 07/10/08 09:18 AM

Niagara Falls metallurgy plant on way to $20 million makeover

Silicon producer to get new filter

By Denise Jewell Gee


NIAGARA FALLS — When the first furnace fires up in the Globe Metallurgical plant on Highland Avenue later this year, it will have a new filter and more efficient technology to help reduce fumes that escape as silicon is made.

A $20 million initial upgrade to reopen the plant and begin producing metallurgical-grade silicon by the end of the year will include new filters that can capture more emissions than the existing system, plant representatives said Wednesday.

The goal is to really make this a cleaner operation than perhaps it has been in the past,” said Adam S. Walters, an attorney with Phillips Lytle.

Walters and other representatives for Globe Specialty Metals gave members of the Niagara Falls Planning Board an informal presentation Wednesday night to outline upgrades that will take place as the company reopens the shuttered silicon plant.

Globe Specialty Metals, which acquired the Niagara Falls plant in 2006, announced in May that it plans to reopen the plant and expand it to produce solar-grade silicon that can be used to make products for the solar power industry.

The plant had been closed since 2003.

The first phase of the project will focus on reopening the plant and restarting its two existing furnaces so it can begin producing 30,000 tons of metallurgical- grade silicon annually.

Leland “Skip” Davis, Globe’s vice president of operations, said he expects the first furnace to begin running by December and the second furnace to begin running in the spring.

The first phase, which will cost $20 million and include upgrading plant equipment to make it more efficient, will employ 100 people, Davis said.

The company plans to invest a total of $60 million by 2011 to add operations to the plant that will allow it to produce 4,000 tons of high-purity silicon that can be used in the production of solar panels. The solar-quality silicon will be produced by Solsil Inc.

Solsil and Globe Metallurgical are subsidiaries of Globe Specialty Metals.

The project has received a 40-megawatt allocation of low-cost power from the New York Power Authority and is expected to employ 500 people when the plant is in full production. The company has agreed to sell 25 percent of the high-grade silicon to companies located in New York.

During the first phase of the project, the plant’s equipment and furnace filter systems will be repaired or replaced. Two fiberglass bag houses that capture fumes released from the furnaces will be replaced with more modern membrane bags that capture more emissions, said Ron Hawks, of the consultanting firm Environmental Quality Management.

All of these systems, the intent is to make them more reliable so that there will be no spillage of materials, no fumes,” Hawks said.

Hawks compared the bag houses to bags on vacuum cleaners that collect debris.

The plant will sell the two main byproducts of the silicon-making process. Gases that are captured from the furnaces are sold to concrete industries. Dross, or metal skimmed from the molten silicon as it is purified, is also sold, said Matt Greene, environmental manager of Globe Metallurgical.