Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ghosts of projects past reappear in government document

It was a Pig Iron Plant that didn’t fly, but somehow it still remains on the books as a part of the Province of BC’s Major Projects Inventory, a guideline of projects currently on the books in the province.

It was six years ago that Pacific Iron and Steel Products proposed building a $750 million pig iron steel mill, which would have provided for 300 new permanent jobs and 1,200 construction jobs for 16 to 18 months. It was just one of the many big time projects that never seemed to get off of a drawing board around here, destined to be just another dream that eventually would die off.

Its reappearance on the provincial projects rolls has become s a bit of a mystery to all concerned. The Daily News took us down memory lane with a page five story in its Tuesday edition.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News’
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Page Five

A long dead proposal to build a $750 million pig iron steel mill in Prince Rupert is refusing to die off the province’s books.

For some reason, the B. C. Iron and Steelworkers Plant, which was proposed by Pacific Iron and Steel Products back in 2000, is still being listed as on the province’s Major Projects Inventory as if it will be going ahead.

In fact, the inventory lists the a potential construction date as early 2007 with a finish in 2009, with the last project update provided in March 2006.

Yet no one in town seems to know anything about it.

“As far as I know that project is dead. I have no idea why it’s still on the books. They (the Ministry of Economic Development) are usually pretty good at filtering stuff on that list,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

“If it were going ahead, you would be hearing about I going through environmental reviews right now.”

The proposed plant was put forward back in 2000 by Pacific Iron and Steel Products Inc. The company was hoping to build a plant to manufacture 1.5 million tonnes a year of steel slabs for export to markets and Asia and the U. S.

The project, had it gone ahead, would have created 300 new permanent jobs and 1,200 construction jobs for 16 to 18 months.

However, the company was unable to get a commitment from the province for low electricity rates in exchange for job creation and for help with infrastructure at its Ridley Island site. The company backed away from the project in 2001.

“The government clearly is not going to give anything worthwhile, so we’ve tried and that’s it,” Marcus Foster of Pacific Iron and Steel Products Inc. told the Daily News at the time.

In 2001, the company was looking at taking an equity position in a proposed Brazilian steel mill and the Brazilian government was quick to make an offer to help the company.

The contact listed for the project in the project inventory is the Port of Prince Rupert.

Barry Bartlett, manager of corporate communications and public affairs for the Prince Rupert Port Authority, also confirmed that despite the listing, the project fizzled out in 2002.

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