First commissioned in 1928, Keystone Cement Co located in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, is now pushing ahead with more investment thanks to some extra funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development Keystone now hopes that US$7m in loans and grants released Thursday by the state Department of Community and Economic Development will boost its US$165m investment to help keep the plant competitive and put some of the old machinery to pasture.
The state Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing Keystone’s plans to replace its two wet cement kilns with one precalciner kiln system. The process should boost the annual tonnage the plant produces from 700,000t to about 1Mta, said Jeffery Kaboly, Keystone’s resource recovery manager.
"With our investment and with the assistance of the state of Pennsylvania, this plant will be one of the leaders in the region," said Jose Ignacio Martinez Ynzenga, a senior official with Cementos Portland Valderrivas, a Spain-based company that owns the East Allen Township plant. Ynzenga, whose company bought Keystone in 1999, said he opted to reinvest so much money in the plant because of the Valley’s access to limestone and because much of the needed infrastructure was already in place.
By granting the package, which includes US$6.5m in loans and US$500,000 in grants, the state hopes Keystone will retain the 180 workers employed in East Allen, said Dan Gundersen, the state DCED’s executive deputy secretary.
The package includes a US$4.5m loan through the state Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund, to be paid at a rate of 3.25 per cent over 10 years; a US$2m loan through the state Industrial Development Authority, to be paid at a rate of 4.25 percent over 15 years; a US$200,000 Opportunity Grant, and US$300,000 in job training assistance, said Kevin Ortiz, a DCED spokesman.
As part of the upgrade, Keystone is also seeking to relocate and more than double the storage capacity of four tanks that store recycled oils and solvents that help fuel the cement-making process, company officials said. The new location would be near a Norfolk-Southern rail line, allowing Keystone to import the fuels by train and truck.