Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and other state officials were in the Lee County, Iowa town of Wever to break ground on the first world-scale greenfield nitrogen fertilizer complex built in the U.S. in 25 years. The Iowa Fertilizer Company (IFCo), a wholly owned subsidiary of Orascom Construction Industries, is expected to open sometime in 2015 and will produce ammonia, urea and UAN.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey put Iowa's nitrogen demand in perspective saying that if Iowa were compared to the rest of the world, Iowa would fall fourth worldwide among top nitrogen using nations. Northey said the benefits of having a production facility in the state that produces the most corn and uses the most nitrogen nationally will benefit both N producers and Iowa farmers.
"In November 2011, Iowa Fertilizer Company was just an idea. Today, after much hard work by local and state officials, we celebrate the start of construction work on our new $1.4 billion fertilizer plant which represents the largest investment project ever undertaken in the state. We would also like to thank the community in Lee County for its support of our project and reaffirm our commitment to utilize local suppliers, contractors and workers whenever possible and involve ourselves in this community," commented Orascom Construction Industries CEO Nassef Sawiris.
In addition to breaking ground, a deal was also signed at the event with the ANR Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp, who will pipe natural gas directly to the complex, and with Iowa-based McAnnich Corp, which will undertake initial earthmoving and grading works on the site.
Lee County registers the highest unemployment in the state of Iowa, and the jobs and spinoff jobs the IFCo plant will create are vital to the future of the community. Dave Jameson, Chairman of the Iowa Finance Authority called the deal a 'big win' and said, "It is my sincere belief that you will not find a more committed, driven and proud workforce anywhere in the country than right here, in Iowa."
The United States currently imports 14 million metric tons of Ammonia, Urea and UAN each year. IFCo will provide a secure supply of competitively priced fertilizer products for Iowa's farmers and will save Americans millions annually on fertilizer while decreasing Iowa's dependence on foreign fertilizer sources.