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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

MN Pig Iron Plant Fights For American Steel

September 28, 2009 4:16 am | by Peter Passi

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — The sea of vehicles crowding the approach to Mesabi Nugget bespeaks the project's scale. Somewhere between 600 and 700 contractors are on the job most days, working to launch the Iron Range's newest taconite processor. At the peak of activity, about a month ago, upwards of 800 tradespeople were working to construct the $270 million plant that will transform taconite into pig iron.

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BP And Kuwait Begin Joint Venture For Chinese Oil

September 28, 2009 4:12 am

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Oil giant BP PLC is interested in teaming up with Kuwait in a planned $9 billion joint venture refinery project in southern China, a senior Kuwaiti official said Monday. Hussein Ismail, president of the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum International, told the official Kuwait News Agency that "preliminary talks" with the British oil giant have begun, and that BP was evaluating the 300,000 barrel per day facility's site in southern China's Guangdong province.

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IL-Based Abbott To Buy Solvay Pharma For $6.6b

September 28, 2009 4:11 am | by Damian Troise, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Abbott Laboratories is buying the pharmaceutical business of Belgian chemicals maker Solvay for $6.6 billion in a move to further expand internationally and add to its product portfolio. North Chicago, Ill.-based Abbott already holds U.S. marketing rights for Solvay's Trilipix and TriCor, drugs which raise "good" HDL cholesterol while reducing triglycerides and "bad" LDL cholesterol.

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Air Force To Reopen $35b Boeing-Northrop Battle

September 25, 2009 4:47 am | by Donna Borak, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Air Force is poised to reopen the competition between rivals Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. for a troubled $35 billion tanker contract. The Pentagon has tried and failed twice to award a contract to replace its Eisenhower-era fleet of tankers that refuel military planes in flight.

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Ford, UAW Talks 'A Delicate Balance'

September 25, 2009 4:37 am | by Kimberly S. Johnson, AP Auto Writer

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) -- United Auto Workers union president Ron Gettelfinger said Thursday that while the group continues to discuss additional contract modifications with Ford Motor Co. both sides are working to maintain a good relationship. "It's a delicate balance," said Gettelfinger of Ford's desire to make changes and UAW workers' potential reluctance to agree to further concessions.

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Chinese Startup To Build Hybrids In Alabama

September 25, 2009 4:29 am

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- A group of Chinese investors plans to construct a large-scale plant to manufacture hybrid automobiles in northern Baldwin County near Mobile. Gov. Bob Riley and the chairman of Hybrid Kinetic Motors, Yung "Benjamin" Yeung said the company is expected to begin operations in 2013 and will create more than 5,000 jobs.

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Magna Reconsiders Closing of Antwerp Plant

September 25, 2009 4:20 am | by George Frey, AP Business Writer

FRANKFURT (AP) — Magna International Inc. is considering whether to keep the former General Motors Co. plant in Antwerp, Belgium open despite initially saying the plant would be shuttered, a German weekly reported Friday. Germany's Der Spiegel said that Magna, a Canadian car parts company, and GM are considering whether to move production of a small GM SUV, that had been intended to be built in China, to the Belgium plant.

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Durable Goods Down, Indexes Inconclusive

September 25, 2009 4:15 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders for goods expected to last at least three years fell unexpectedly in August due mainly to a drop in demand for commercial aircraft. The second decline in orders for durable goods in three months is evidence that any recovery in manufacturing will be slow and gradual.

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Unilever Picks Up Sara Lee Franchises For $1.88b

September 25, 2009 4:12 am

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Consumer products giant Unilever NV said Friday it has agreed to buy businesses including the Sanex and Duschdas brands from Sara Lee Corp. for €1.28 billion ($1.88 billion) The businesses to be acquired, subject to regulatory approval, include Sara Lee's worldwide body care products business and its European detergents arms, which includes strong regional brands such as Radox bubble bath and Switzal, a maker of baby shampoo.

Ford To Spent $490m On Chinese Factory

September 25, 2009 4:07 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — Ford Motor Co. said Friday it plans to spend $490 million on building a third assembly plant in China, ramping up production to meet surging demand in this fast-growing market as the U.S. automaker expands in Asia. The factory, to be built in the central Chinese city of Chongqing, will make the next-generation Focus compact car, which Ford plans to sell globally.

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Sugar Refinery Ignored Explosive Dust Before Blast

September 25, 2009 4:04 am | by Rruss Bynum, Associated Press Writer

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Imperial Sugar Co. and managers of its Georgia refinery ignored known dangers of explosive dust for decades before a chain of dust-fueled fireballs erupted at the plant last year and killed 14 people, investigators said in a report Thursday. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial accidents, said it found written warnings of explosive dust hazards in refinery memos from the 1960s and that the deaths likely could have been prevented by routine housekeeping.

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Intel CEO: PC Sales May Rise In 2009

September 22, 2009 12:12 pm

September 22, 2009 by Jordan Robertson, AP Technology Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The worldwide personal-computer market is pulling out of its slump quickly and could defy predictions by growing this year, Intel Corp. CEO Paul Otellini said Tuesday. Otellini's comments at a conference Tuesday were more bullish than many analysts have been.

ConAgra Nurses Profit Dip But Raises Outlook

September 22, 2009 12:03 pm | by Sarah Skidmore, AP Food Industry Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — ConAgra Foods Inc. said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit dropped 63 percent compared with a year earlier — when it sold a business — but its adjusted profit beat estimates, and it raised its outlook. The Omaha, Neb.-based food maker said strong performance of its Healthy Choice, Marie Callender and Orville Redenbacher consumer lines meant its results for the year would be solid.

Manufacturers Battle Reform Taxes On Medical Devices

September 22, 2009 11:53 am | by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — They were calling it the tax on Q-tips. Amid Republican ridicule, a Democratic chairman backed down Tuesday and exempted consumer items of $100 or less — from condoms to contact lenses — from a proposed tax on medical device manufacturers. It would help pay for health care coverage for the uninsured in comprehensive legislation.

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OSHA Fines NE Company For Burned Worker

September 22, 2009 11:41 am

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha asphalt surfacing and paving company Monarch Oil has been fined $52,000 by the federal government for an accident that badly burned a worker. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the company violated several safety rules when a worker was covered by almost 240-degree asphalt while transferring asphalt from rail cars into storage tanks.

Union Sues To Hold Pratt & Whitney Jobs

September 22, 2009 11:22 am | by Stephen Singer, AP Manufacturing Writer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Machinists union asked a federal judge Tuesday to block Pratt & Whitney from moving 1,000 jobs from Connecticut, accusing the jet engine maker of negotiating in bad faith. The International Association of Machinists said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford that Pratt & Whitney executives failed to make "every reasonable effort" to preserve the jet engine repair jobs in Connecticut.

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CA Automaker Receives $500m Govt. Loan

September 22, 2009 11:12 am | by Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fisker Automotive, a California manufacturer of luxury electric vehicles, will receive more than $500 million in federal loans to develop a plug-in hybrid sports car with a sticker price of nearly $90,000 and a new plug-in hybrid vehicle to be built in the United States. The Energy Department said Tuesday it would lend $528.

GM Increases Production At 3 Plants

September 22, 2009 8:53 am | by Tom Krishner, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. will go to 24-hour operations at factories in Kansas, Michigan and Indiana to make up for production lost due to a large-scale factory consolidation announced earlier in the year. The automaker says it will add third shifts at its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan.

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Goodyear Workers Ratify New Contract

September 22, 2009 7:42 am

GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A United Steelworkers official says Goodyear workers in Gadsden voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new four-year contract, which has won national ratification. Local 12 President David Hayes says 63.7 percent of union members in Gadsden voted in favor of the proposed contract, joining other union locals that supported ratification.

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Auto Engineers Look Outside Industry For Work

September 22, 2009 7:32 am | by David Runk, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) — After Jerry Tester lost his job as a contract engineer at General Motors, it soon became clear that the struggling auto industry wouldn't be the place where he would work again. The 45-year-old spent months unemployed before a tip from a friend led him to the Talascend Global Training Academy, where he took a crash course in piping design that landed him a job at Marathon Oil Corp.

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