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TUSCOLA — Germany-based ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions has expanded its interest in the long- discussed Cronus Fertilizers facility in Tuscola.

Cronus chose the Douglas County community as the home for its state-of-the-art fertilizer plant in 2014, but no construction has taken place yet.

Cronus has extended its fixed-price, lump-sum, turnkey contract for engineering, procurement and construction with ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions through June 30, 2021, and is also finalizing an operations and maintenance agreement with the German giant, the companies announced this week.

ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions will be involved in operating and maintaining the plant once it begins production and will become a minority shareholder in Cronus Fertilizers LLC, according to the announcement.

Cronus Fertilizers says the Tuscola facility will be one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

“The plant is expected to provide a significant boost to the economy in the form of construction jobs, long-term positions and spending activity,” Cronus said, adding that it will announce updates to the project timeline as the development process advances.

When it unveiled the project more than six years ago, Cronus said the plant would create 2,000 construction jobs and 175 permanent jobs.

A notice on the Cronus website says that groundbreaking for the facility “is expected to take place in the second half of 2021” and that the plant would employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people at the height of construction and up to 200 full-time-equivalent operators when operations begin in the first half of 2024.

“ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions is looking forward to working in partnership with the Cronus team to realize this world-scale ammonia plant,” said Sami Pelkonen, CEO of its chemical and process technologies group. “Our investment in Cronus Fertilizers demonstrates our commitment to this project and to Cronus’ success in particular.”

In January, Cronus announced new investment from Keyman-Avunduk Investment Company AG, which made it the majority shareholder in Cronus Fertilizers. KAIC has provided financial backing and industry expertise that have helped to advance the project.

“We are developing one of the largest fertilizer facilities in the U.S. and bringing together global experts to ensure the highest quality in both the construction and operations of the Cronus plant,” said Melih Keyman, chairman of Chicago-based Cronus Fertilizers. “We are proud to expand our partnership with TKIS on this important project.”

The Tuscola facility would produce up to 2,300 metric tons of ammonia per day, giving regional farmers access to locally produced ammonia and largely eliminating the need for imported products.

It would be a major new source of ammonia for the agricultural industries of the Midwest Corn Belt.

“The Cronus project is another milestone for our continuing success story in the fertilizer business in North America,” stated Ralf Richmann, head of the fertilizers group at TKIS. Cronus previously announced an updated plant design that focuses on ammonia and on-site delivery.

“The expansion of our partnership with TKIS is a new vote of confidence in Cronus Fertilizers from the world’s leading fertilizer technology company,” said Erzin Atac, CEO of Cronus Chemicals.

“When we began our cooperation with Cronus during my time as president of TKIS (USA), I have been particularly impressed by the strong local and regional support” stated Karsten Radtke, who now leads the company’s global business development. “With the commitment and the strength of the Cronus team, we are confident that the Cronus plant will create major benefits for the Midwestern agriculture and the local economy in Tuscola and surroundings.”

Columnist

Tom Kacich is a columnist and the author of Tom's Mailbag at The News-Gazette. His column appears Sundays. His email is tkacich@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@tkacich).

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