USA - Bessemer cement plant sold

A Nov. 28, 2016 deed transfer from the county register and recorder's office shows that Argos USA of Alpharetta, GA, purchased 13.92 acres of the 114 acre site from Essroc Cement Corp. for $1,226,026. Essroc's mailing address was given as Lehigh Hanson Inc., of Allentown, Pa. Lehigh Hanson Inc. is an affiliate of Heidelberg Cement which recently acquired Italcementi, former owner of the Bessemer plant.

Attempts were unsuccessful to reach Argos to determine its plans for the Bessemer property. Argos was founded in Colombia in 1934 and is a multinational company which produces and markets cement and ready mix concrete, according to its website, which states it is the second largest producer of concrete in the United States.

Jeff Sieg of Lehigh Hanson Inc. offices in Irving, Texas, explained in an email Friday that the sale was part of a Federal Trade Commission required divesture of certain assets related to HeidelbegCement's acquisition of Italcementi.

In a press release last August, HeidelbergCement announced that through its subsidiaries Essroc Corp. and Lehigh Hanson, Inc, it had entered into a definitive agreement with Argos USA LLC, a subsidiary of Cementos Argos, to sell its Martinsburg, West Virginia cement plant and eight other terminals, including Bessemer's. However, before the sale was finalized, the company had to wait for the FTC to decide how to address competition concerns arising from HeidelbergCement's acquisition of Italcementi. These issues were expected to be resolved by the last quarter of 2016.

Local residents had been questioning whether the long vacant plant had been sold following the recent appearance of a sign on the plant gate stating "Argos Bessemer Terminal."

Bessemer Borough Council member LuAnne Izzo said Friday that to her knowledge, no one has contacted the borough with any information about the plant's future. "It would be nice if somebody came to Monday's council meeting and told us what they are planning," she said.

The statement of value in the recording documents states the county-assessed value of the property is $5,027,8900.

According to the Essroc website, Italcementi Group - which has owned the Bessemer plant for many years - changed its name to Essroc in 1989 in North America. Essroc's headquarters are based in Nazareth, Pa.

In 2009 it commissioned the $650 million manufacturing facility at Martinsburg, W.V., which replaced several wet kilns operating in Martinsburg, Frederick MD and Bessemer, Pa., according to Italcementi's website.

The plant was formerly a major employer in Lawrence County, at one time having more than 300 employees. With roots in limestone quarries and brickyards of the 1880's the plant underwent several changes in ownership until Bessemer Limestone and Cement closed in 1982, furloughing 200 employees. In 1990 Essroc bought the plant which was then taken over by Italcementi in 1992 before closing in 2009. The plant has remained idle since.

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