An investment group headed by a former fertilizer company executive said Thursday it has agreed to purchase the ammonium sulfate section of Augusta’s Fibrant LLC chemical plant.
The deal will save approximately 100 of the 600 jobs that are expected to be lost when the remainder of the chemical plant shuts down during the third quarter.
The investment group, Augusta Sulfate Company LLC, said it intends to restart the fertilizer operations May 1, with a mix of former Fibrant employees as well as new hires.
Fibrant spokeswoman Lisa Kirby said workers at the site’s ammonium sulfate operation, which accounts for about 15 percent of the entire chemical plant, will remain Fibrant employees until the acquisition is finalized.
Fibrant’s Netherlands-based owner last year said the plant would shut down because its caprolactam operation, which produces the main ingredient in carpets, apparel and certain types of plastics, couldn’t remain competitive against low-cost Asian producers.
The Augusta-based investment group will be headed by David Delaney, who retired last year as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Canada-based PotashCorp. – one of the companies co-located at the sprawling east Augusta industrial facility built in 1962.
Delaney, who will serve as chairman of Augusta Sulfate Company, said in a statement the new venture is “committed to reenter the market and support our dedicated ammonium sulfate customers.
“We intend to implement an investment strategy to diversify our ammonium sulfate product offering,” he said. “We are equally excited about restoring approximately 100 jobs to the Augusta area.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Augusta Sulfate Company was created in November, according to Georgia corporation records. Kirby said negotiations to acquire the plant’s fertilizer business began in late 2016.
Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic salt with several commercial uses, mainly as a fertilizer in alkaline-heavy soils.
Ron Waller, vice president of marketing and sales, said in a statement that the acquisition is “a major step in re-establishing our long term” ammonium sulfate presence in North America.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough the commitment of the new ownership in partnering with our customers, who have expressed their desire for a local supplier capable of delivering premium quality and service,” he said.
Production will initially align with Fibrant’s post-shutdown capacity, but will expand as future investments are made and new customers and markets are identified, the company said.
Fibrant plans to decommission the remainder of the plant by Oct. 31.
“In the meantime, Fibrant continues to pursue options for the remaining assets,” Kirby said.