Rima: ‘Desperate’ lawsuit won’t stop Mississippi Silicon

news_business_greenBy Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

BURNSVILLE – The Brazilian company financing the bulk of the Mississippi Silicon plant said a “desperate” lawsuit by a competitor will not derail its efforts.

Rima Industrial S/A is being sued in federal court by Ohio-based Globe Metallurgical Inc.

The 39-page complaint alleges “a series of criminal and otherwise unlawful actions” against Brazilian-based Rima Industrial and Birmingham-based Polymet Alloys and alleges that proceeds from that criminal conduct are being used in part to construct the $200 million Mississippi Silicon plant.

“This lawsuit is the latest in a series of desperate efforts by Globe Specialty Metals to stop or disrupt the Mississippi Silicon project, hence stifling competition in the U.S. market,” Rima Industrial and Polymet Alloys said in a joint response to the suit.

Though some other U.S. manufacturers make silicon metal for their own use, Globe Metallurgical Inc.’s four U.S. plants are the only domestic producers for a commercial market. It is a unit of Miami-based Globe Specialty Metals.

“Globe is currently the only independent silicon metal producer in the U.S. with plants averaging 40 years plus in age and a less than favorable reputation within the industry,” the companies said. “These efforts show very clearly how concerned Globe is with Mississippi Silicon, which will be the most modern and competitive silicon metal plant in the world while offering the U.S. consumers another domestic source of silicon metal and a friendly service.”

The state is providing $21.5 million for building construction and workforce training, as well as a $3.5 million loan to Tishomingo County for infrastructure improvements.

The plant, expected to open next year, will employ 200 workers.

Rima Holdings USA Inc. owns 80 percent of Mississippi Silicon and is an affiliate of Rima Industrial SA. The other 20 percent is owned by Clean Tech I LLC, a domestic investor group led by John Correnti, who led the effort to build what is now the Severstal steel mill in Columbus.

Globe’s lawsuit seeks not only to halt construction of Mississippi Silicon, but also to receive monetary damages.

The targets of its lawsuit said it will continue building the Burnsville plant.

“Rima Industrial SA and Polymet Alloys Inc. will properly address in court all these false accusations made by Globe,” the companies said. “We are continuing with the construction of Mississippi Silicon without delay and in the end, fair competition will prevail.”

dennis.seid@journalinc.com