A Capitol Heights-based scrap metal processor has purchased a Baltimore County scrapyard and is pushing to build an export terminal in Curtis Bay to meet a surge in demand from the global steel industry.
Joseph Smith & Sons Inc. began operations this week at the former Recovermat Mid-Atlantic LLC demolition waste facility in Halethorpe, retaining its 20 workers. Smith Vice President Bob Bonnes said the company is converting the facility into a shredding plant for autos and steel scrap.
Smith's larger project is to open the Curtis Bay export terminal by mid-2009. It would become the first terminal in years to ship scrap iron and steel from the port of Baltimore.
"Our major interest in this property is obviously to get our scrap metal loaded and out of this country," said Bonnes, who brought an international focus when he joined Smith in February 2007. "It gives us access to the world, not just the U.S."
Rapid development in China and India has resulted in an increase in the price of the recycled metals used to make steel. Scrap from the West Coast and Australia feeds the Asian industry, and the East Coast is responding to growing demand from Mediterranean markets. Turkey, an export market targeted by Smith, is the world's biggest buyer of scrap for its production of steel for the Middle East, Bonnes said.
Smith envisions local steel mills, such as the one in Sparrows Point and others in Pennsylvania and Delaware, buying shredded scrap directly from its new Halethorpe processor.
The 27-acre Curtis Bay terminal, at the end of Asiatic Avenue just east of the CSX coal and ore piers, could also serve local steelmakers and process shipments of salt, bulk liquid and other commodities, Bonnes said. Smith operates a small scrap export site in Wilmington, Del., but the Prince George's County company focuses on the domestic market.
To build the Baltimore terminal, Smith and joint-venture partner Port Contractors Inc. of Wilmington need final approval and permits from the city, the Army Corps of Engineers and the MarylandDepartment of the Environment.
"We are developing it looking to minimize the amount of dredging to limit the impact on the bay and the costs," Bonnes said. "We have a clean bill of health to go forward."
The site, formerly the Amoco Baltimore Asphalt Terminal, has been subject to environmental audits and cleanup efforts through the MDE.
Port Contractors acquired the terminal site in September, with Smith buying a 50 percent interest. The two companies are jointly developing the terminal, which could eventually have 40 to 50 employees, Bonnes said.