Home » MBJ FEATURE » Court tosses challenge to Miss. Silicon’s clean air permit

Court tosses challenge to Miss. Silicon’s clean air permit

mdeqAn Alabama competitor to Mississippi Silicon, which is building a $200 million  plant in Burnsville, came in too late with its challenge to an air quality permit for the plant, the Tishomingo County Chancery Court has ruled.

In an Aug. 29 summary judgment, Chancery Judge Michael Malski said Globe Metallurgical of Selma let too much time elapse between the state Permit Board’s Dec. 10 approval of a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality clean air permit and its request for a review hearing. Globe Metallurgical should have made the request within the statutorily-set 30-day window instead of waiting until Feb. 12, the court said.

Globe argued the 30-day clock should not have begun running until the Permit Board’s Jan. 14 approval of the minutes of the board’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Certain actions do require approval of a state board’s minutes to become official, said Mississippi Silicon attorney Keith W. Turner of Watkins & Eager in Jackson.

But the air quality permit approval is not among them, Turner said. The action is official, he said, “when the Permit Board accepts the permit from the DEQ staff.”

Globe did not challenge the validity of any parts of the permit.

Turner said Globe is taking action against its Mississippi competitor on several legal fronts, all of which he claims are aimed at keeping Mississippi Silicone from becoming the first new entry into the U.S. silicon manufacturing market since the mid 1970s.

“This is a continuous harassment of Mississippi Silicon,” Turner said.

Though some other U.S. manufacturers make silicon metal for their own use, Globe’s four U.S. plants are the only domestic producers for a commercial market, the Associated Press reports.

Globe is a business unit of Miami-based Globe Specialty.

Mississippi Silicon is building the Burnsville plant as a partner of Rima Holdings USA and investor group Clean Tech, LLC. Rima Holdings is a subsidiary of Brazil’s Rima Industrial S/A, a producer of a quarter of the world’s silicon.

Interviewed last Friday, Mississippi Silicon CEO David Tuten said construction of the plant is on schedule with work moving “full speed ahead.”

Completion is expected early in 2015.

Estimates are the plant will need to hire 200 workers. “We’ll probably start hiring after the first of the year… a couple of months before startup,” Tuten said.

Tuten said in a previous interview that only recently have efficiencies been made in manufacturing silicon metals to make a new U.S. plant financially worthwhile.

In addition to Global, Mississippi Silicon will be competing against lower-cost Chinese, Russian and Third World silicon products whose makers face few of the environmental and other regulations to which U.S. operations must adhere.

However, Mississippi Silicon will be selling in a strong market, Tuten said in last week’s interview. “We’re seeing improved pricing. The market has gotten better.”



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