HarbisonWalker International (HWI) intends to invest $25 million to convert its closed Fairfield, Ala., plant into an advanced refractories manufacturing, service and distribution hub for southern U.S. steelmakers. Construction will begin during the first quarter of 2022, and the 200,000-square-foot facility is expected to open before the end of the year. The investment will increase refractory capacity and efficiency commensurate with steel customers’ production investments. HWI anticipates hiring 50 highly trained technicians and staff in a team-based environment at the plant.

The proposed new plant, Alabama One (AL1), will produce magnesia-carbon brick refractories specifically engineered to maximize efficiency and performance in critical steelmaking applications like steel ladles and low-emission electric-arc furnaces (EAFs). Initially, production will add approximately 15,000 metric tons annually and ultimately up to 30,000 metric tons as additional equipment is added by 2023. AL1 will include a high degree of robotics automation and technology and utilize lean techniques throughout its processes.