IN THIS ISSUE

Saint-Gobain Appointments

DOE/IHEA Process Heating Advance Materials Forum

ARCHIVES
December 11, 2002
Seasons Greetings from The Refractories Institute! Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Institute's on-line newsletter. This electronic version has replaced the monthly printed edition.

INDUSTRY NEWS
Clayburn Purchases New Savage Plant

Clayburn Industries has obtained final approval to purchase the New Savage, Maryland plant of ANH Refractories, according to J. Donald Harris, CEO of Clayburn. The sale of the facility was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Western Pennsylvania on November 22, 2002.

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National Update

The sale of certain National Refractories assets under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code reached another milestone as initial bids, or "stalking horse bids", were recently announced. These are the bids that are deemed to be the best legitimate bids received to date. They serve as the starting points when the public auction is held on December 12, 2002, in San Francisco. At that time, additional parties may join the bidding process by making offers above the "stalking horse" bids.

Resco Products has offered $5 million for certain brands, product lines, equipment, raw materials, and other assets from the National plants in Wellsville and Mexico, Missouri, and the plant in Columbiana, Ohio. Allied Mineral Products has made an initial bid for the Chicago Fire Brick monolithic operations of $3 million, plus inventory. In addition, Rex Roto reportedly has made a bid for the fused silica operation of National Affiliated Technologies in Cumming, Georgia.

It is not clear if other parties are prepared to offer higher bids at the December 12 auction.

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Washington Mills Files Dumping Charge

Washington Mills Electro Minerals Corp. of North Grafton, Massachusetts has filed a petition with the International Trade Administration (ITA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce alleging that Chinese companies are dumping brown fused alumina grain in the United States.

Obtaining a positive determination in dumping cases can be a lengthy process. First ITA conducts an initial review to determine if a case may have merit. The second stage is a lengthy investigation by ITA to determine if dumping has taken place. A separate body, the International Trade Commission, conducts a parallel investigation to determine if a domestic industry has been materially hurt by the dumping and what remedies will be applied.

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Saint-Gobain Appointments

Saint-Gobain Industrial Ceramics, Worcester, Massachusetts, restructured its North American marketing and sales organization for Energy Systems. Kevin Paskale, applications engineer, is responsible for sales to the gas turbine market and certain petrochemical accounts. Wade Taber, applications engineer, is responsible for design and sales assistance for the gasification business, including direct sales from Worcester of chrome-alumina refractories for the coal gasification market made by the Savoie Refractaires division in France. Robert Jones and Joseph Quellet, refractory sales specialists, will continue to provide sales and refractory installation support to the waste-to-energy and coal-fired power market.

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31st ALAFAR Congress

The 2002 ALAFAR Congress was held in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil, October 28-31. About 180 registrants and 70 companions convened at the Marriott Resort and Spa fifty miles northeast of Salvador de Bahia.

About thirty keynote presentations and technical papers were presented in the course of the meeting, including updates on the steel and cement industries and discussions of current practices and future trends in monolithic refractories, with a U.S. monolithics update presented by Dennis Peters of TRI member Resco Products. In a departure from the traditional format, a two hour panel discussion on economic and technical challenges of monolithics was also held, chaired by Paulo Bittencourt of Magnesita and Alvaro Lopes of Possehl.

An ALAFAR meeting is not complete without companions' tours and a social agenda which provide important opportunities for informal exchange. This year companions were provided a shopping trip to Salvador and a tour of the village of Praia do Forte and the sea turtle conservation project there.

There will be no ALAFAR Congress in 2003 as the decision has been made not to host a Congress in a year when a UNITECR is held. UNITECR will be held in Osaka, Japan, October 19-22, 2003.

The 32nd ALAFAR Congress will be held in Guatemala in November, 2004.

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New Product Manager for Orton Ceramic Foundation

Reed D. Slevin was hired as Product Manager for Instruments, a newly created position, by the Orton Ceramic Foundation in Westerville, Ohio. He will be responsible for sales and marketing and product development. He is a graduate of Ohio State University with a BS and MS degree in Ceramic Engineering. He has held a variety of R&D, sales, marketing and management positions within the refractories industry.


REGULATORY
OSHA Rewrites Exit, Emergency Action Rules

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a revision to its requirements for exit routes, emergency action plans, and fire prevention plans found in Subpart E of Part 1910 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The revision was printed in the Federal Register on November 7. It addresses three aspects of exit routes: design and construction requirements; maintenance, safeguards, and operational requirements; and requirements for warning employees on the need to evacuate. The rule is effective December 9, 2002. Single copies are available to TRI members from the Institute.

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MSHA Issues HazCom Memos

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued two memoranda related to its enforcement of the agency's recently published regulation on hazard communication. Procedure Instruction Letter No. 102-III-1, entitled "Compliance Procedures for the Hazard Communications Standard," dated 10/4/02, establishes policies and procedures necessary to ensure uniform enforcement of the HazCom standard by MSHA field offices. Program Policy Letter No. P02-III-2, dated 9/5/02, incorporates the HazCom training provisions into MSHA's training requirements in Parts 46 and 48 of the MSHA regulations.

Copies of these documents may be found on the MSHA website: www.msha.gov. Single copies are available to TRI members by calling
(412) 281-6787, faxing (412) 281-6881, or
e-mail: triassn@aol.com.


LEGISLATIVE
On Deck for 108th Congress

With the lame duck session of the 107th Congress having adjourned, planning is underway for the 108th Congress which will start work in January. The Republican control of both houses, plus the upcoming 2004 presidential election, will make for some interesting dynamics, with the conservative agenda sometimes tempered and sometimes trumped by legislators seeking to appease the widest range of potential voters. Likely legislative initiatives include:

  • Consideration and passage of a Patients' Bill of Rights and a
    prescription health benefit for senior citizens.

  • Continued debate and possible compromise on a National Energy Plan which encourages domestic exploration, contains incentives for new technologies and promotes voluntary conservation efforts.

  • Continued business support for tort reform, tax reform including repeal of the alternative minimum tax and accelerated capital cost recovery, efforts to counter a too-strong dollar, and changes to social security.

  • Corporate bashing will continue with efforts to impose "safeguards" on corporate governance to remedy and prevent "abuses."

  • Significant pressure for an economic stimulus package, whether needed or not, which, if enacted, will probably be too little, too late, and misdirected.

The war on terrorism and the Iraq situation may ultimately end up dictating much of the congressional agenda.

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LITIGATION/LEGAL
Court Reviews Mental Stress for Asbestos Exposure Argument

On November 6, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments seeking reversal of a West Virginia jury's award of $5.8 million to six retired railroad workers who alleged they might develop cancer from job-related asbestos exposure (Norfolk and Western Railway Co. V. Ayers). The award was made as compensation for "emotional distress" caused by the fear of the possibility of getting cancer. The West Virginia State Supreme Court had denied review. Attorneys for the defendant cited the case as another example of the "asbestos litigation crisis" arising out of claims for stress and possible future undiagnosed medical problems which sap resources which should be used to compensate legitimate victims of asbestos-related disease.

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INFORMATION RESOURCES
Refractories Shipments in 2002

The U.S. Census Bureau has released the MA327(c) report on refractories for calendar year 2001 in October. The following quotes the Summary of Findings:

"In 2001, total manufacturers' shipments of refractories amounted to $1,907.3 million, a decrease of 8 percent from $2,063.7 million in 2000.

"Shipments of clay refractories decreased 14 percent to $756.8 million in 2001, from $878.3 million in 2000. Clay refractories shipments accounted for 40 percent of total refractories shipments in 2001 and 43 percent in 2000.

"Shipments of nonclay refractories decreased 3 percent to $1,150.5 million in 2001, from $1,185.4 million in 2000. Nonclay refractories shipments accounted for 60 percent of the total refractories shipments in 2001 and 57 percent in 2000.

"Brick and shapes continue to be the dominate form of refractories. Brick and shapes from clay refractories showed a decrease of 12 percent to $396.4 million in 2001, from $451.8 million in 2000. Brick and shapes from nonclay refractories showed a decrease of 4 percent to $607.8 million in 2001, from $636.1 million in 2000. Unshaped clay refractories decreased 18 percent to $296.8 million in 2001, from $364.1 million in 2000. Mortars increased 9 percent to $23.2 million in 2001, from $21.3 million in 2000. Plastic refractories and ramming mixes from nonclay refractories increased 42 percent to $165.4 million in 2001, from $116.4 million in 2000."

A copy of the full report is available on the web at: "Current Industry Report (CIR)." Click on "CIRs by Subsector," then choose the survey of interest. Follow the menu to view the PDF file or to download the worksheet file (WK format) to your personal computer. These data are also available on Internet through the U.S. Department of Commerce and STAT-USA by subscription. The Internet address is: www.stat-usa.gov. Follow the prompt to register. You may also call (202) 482-1986 or 1-800-STAT-USA, for further information.

Single copies are also available to TRI members by calling TRI at
(412) 281-6787.

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Mineral Industry Surveys

The U.S. Geological Survey published in November, 2002, the Mineral Industry Survey covering lime in the United States for the years 1950 to 2001.

In addition, the Mineral Industry Survey 2001 Annual Reviews are available covering bauxite and alumina, chromium, and iron and steel.

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Metal Industry Indicators

Indicators of domestic primary metals, steel, aluminum, and copper activity during September, October, and November, 2002 are available to TRI members on request.

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Refractory Course On Line

The Ceramic Correspondence Institute of the American Ceramic Society now offers the course, "Refractory Technology" on line. The course consists of three sections: Refractory Materials, Compositions, and Forms; Refractory Engineering and Installation Technology; and Refractory Applications in Industry.

The course is available to take on line and also comes in a traditional printed format. Visit CCI's website at www.ceramics.org/cci for more information.

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MEETINGS
Refractories Symposium

The 4th International Symposium on Refractories is scheduled March 24-28, 2003, in Dalian, China. For more information, call ++86-371-776-6196 or
e-mail: zxchg@371.net.

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DOE/IHEA Process Heating Advance Materials Forum

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Industrial Heating Equipment Association (IHEA) are sponsoring a Process Heating Advance Materials Forum on February 5-6, 2003, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The purpose of the Forum is to provide an environment in which representatives from the process heating industry, the associated user community, and scientists and researchers from the national laboratories and elsewhere can share information on recent research and development, and discuss the future research needs of the Process Heating Industry, in the area of advanced materials. The Forum will provide an opportunity for the attendees to visit R&D facilities at ORNL and to discuss various means available to pursue collaborative R&D and other activities at ORNL.

The agenda has been structured to allow for both formal and informal opportunities to exchange information. The planned outcome of this event is a written report that identifies areas of research and development that demonstrate particular promise for the process heating industry and comments on a strategy for DOE and the National Laboratories to work with the industry on R&D that meets future needs of the industry.

There is no registration fee, but a security form must be completed by January 5, 2003, if you want to attend. Contact TRI for additional information.

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The Refractories Institute
Suite 1160, 650 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Phone: 412.281.6787, Fax: 412.281.6881,
Email: triassn@aol.com