This letter is about the recent article headlined "RG Steel buyer will visit Warren" on Sept. 6.
Mr. Betters said he is hoping to find the "right team," e.g. people to run the steel mill. When RG Steel bought the "mill" they had put in place a team that was eminently qualified to run a steel mill. There are men in this valley qualified to run a steel mill. The real problem, and what people need to understand is, that this is a very old steel mill. It is technically outdated.
During the 1950s and the 1960s, when the steel mills were making money like it was going out of style, what did the board of directors do with the huge profits? The answer is simple. They did not invest in new equipment to better compete in the coming global market. No. They were paying big and bigger salaries to their CEOs and blaming the sweating workers for the little they were paying them, for producing more and more product. So it still is.
What Mr. Betters will do for the next nine months is to find out how to better dismantle the plant and sell the scrap to the highest bidder. Iron is still made the old-fashioned way. That is, in a blast furnace. Coke ovens are still available to produce the heat needed to smelt iron ore. There is still a market for iron. The infrastructure to dismantle the plant and ship the scrap to anywhere in the world is a simple matter logistically.
To really have an operational steel mill, it would be necessary to bring it into the 21st century. The cost of doing that would be in the billions of dollars. Can Mr. Betters put together an investment group that could arrange that kind of financing? I think not. A single quote from the article, "The capital is the main issue." So be it.
For the last nine years Mr. Betters has wanted to strip mine coal on more than 400 acres of land in the Pittsburgh area. In this plan, after the coal was mined, then he envisioned a thoroughbred race track, and a casino with slots. The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board would not allow the strip mining. And so we have RG Steel.
Leonard J. Sainato