SunCoke Energy Inc., the largest independent producer of high-quality coke for blast furnace steel production in the Americas, plans to invest $50 million in its Buchanan County manufacturing operation, Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release Tuesday.
Calling the project “a much-needed boost” for Southwest Virginia, Northam said the project will retain approximately 100 jobs at the Jewell Coke plant, where the company has been for 60 years. Virginia competed with Ohio for the project, which will include production upgrades and renovations to the facility. The company is refurbishing its manufacturing system at the plant to produce foundry coke, a diversification of its product line.
“SunCoke Energy has thrived in Southwest Virginia for more than half a century, and this major investment will ensure the company’s longevity in our Commonwealth for decades to come,” Northam said. “This project is an important win for Buchanan County, providing a much-needed boost to the coalfields’ economy and serving as a strong vote of confidence in the region and its skilled workforce.”
Based in Illinois, SunCoke has facilities in Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and Brazil, and its logistics terminals have capacity to mix and transload more than 40 million tons of coke each year. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Buchanan County and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority to secure the project for the state, and Northam approved a performance-based grant of $1.2 million from the Virginia Investment Performance (VIP) grant.
“SunCoke has been operating the Jewell Coke plant for more than 60 years, and we are happy to continue the good relationship we have had with state and local officials,” SunCoke President and CEO Mike Rippey said in a statement. “We are thankful to the commonwealth of Virginia for providing the VIP grant. As SunCoke works through its customer contracts and prepares to enter into the foundry coke market, Jewell Coke was the ideal facility for the deployment of capital for refurbishment and upgrade of ovens over the next three years.”