ESSEN, Germany—Evonik A.G. is getting closer to establishing another plant in the U.S.
The firm just received approval of a $500,000 Economic Development Grant from South Carolina to assist with site preparation and building construction of Evonik's project, which according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce's document represents a $129.4 million investment and create 55 new jobs.
An Evonik spokesman said the firm would not comment beyond what it released on the project in May 2015, saying that the firm still is investigating sites in the Southeast U.S. No timetable for an official announcement was disclosed.
In May 2015, Evonik disclosed plans for a double-digit million Euro investment in the U.S.—its largest in North America during the past five years—for a new precipitated silica production plant, but did not provide specifics. Evonik said at the time that completion is scheduled for late 2017 and that basic engineering on the facility had already begun.
The Southeast U.S. has seen a wealth of tire growth as Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone Corp., Continental A.G., Pirelli Tire L.L.C., Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Yokohama Tire Corp. all operate tire manufacturing plants in the region. Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental all currently have manufacturing in South Carolina with Giti Tire preparing to open a site in the state too. Trelleborg A.G. also operates a specialty agriculture tire facility in Spartanburg, S.C.
Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has a Tennessee plant nearing completion and recently Continental disclosed plans construct a new plant in Mississippi.
Hans-Detlef Luginsland, vice president for the rubber silica product line, also said last year that the U.S. market is a growing economy for the firm's core industries, specifically citing the automotive and tire markets.
He added that Evonik will produce its Ultrasil-brand of rubber silica products at the new facility—which are reinforcing fillers for the rubber industry. In addition to the tire industry, the product line is used in hoses, belts and rollers.
The firm said manufacturers using a silica-silane combination are able to produce tires that allow for fuel savings up to 8 percent because of significantly reduced rolling resistance compared to conventional passenger car tires.
Evonik said it had increased its global capacity for precipitated silica by about 30 percent between 2010 and 2014, expanding its precipitated silica production plant in Chester, Pa., by about 20,000 metric tons in September 2014.
The firm operates a colloidal silica plant in Portland, Ore., and it produces fumed silica in Waterford, N.J., and Mobile, Ala. It also currently is constructing a silica production facility in Brazil that is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
Headquartered in Essen, Evonik has operations in more than 100 countries with 33,500 employees. The specialty chemicals producer generated sales of about $14.9 billion in 2015.