BlueOak Resources, Burlingame, California, has broken ground on an electronics recycling facility in Osceola, Arkansas, which aims to extract precious metals from obsolete electronics collected throughout the region. The company says it expects the plant to be operational by the end of 2015, processing 15 million pounds of electronic scrap per year initially. BlueOak says it hopes to rapidly expand the operation.
Helping to fund the construction project are the Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement Fund, a consortium of European and U.S. investors and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority. The partners expect to invest $35 million on the project, which will extract and refine scrap metal such as gold, silver copper and palladium.
Other parties involved in financing for the project include The Heartland Renaissance Fund, Los Angeles-based National New Markets Fund and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., which worked together to provide New Markets Tax Credit financing that was fundamental in helping BlueOak reach its funding goal. The groups were also key funding partners in the BlueOak transaction, which was arranged and structured by Global Principal Partners.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says, "The United States is building a domestic supply chain to tackle the challenges presented by e-waste, and Arkansas has the talent pool and business environment to attract the cutting-edge companies like BlueOak that will comprise that supply chain. This facility highlights our commitment to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and back to Arkansas."
The project partners say they modeled the recycling and refining operation off of Nucor’s minimill model, which had a significant impact on the steel industry, especially in the United States.
"The New Markets Tax Credits were created with the vision of empowering and driving positive impact within rural communities in the United States, and the BlueOak project allows us to do just that in Osceola," says Sam Walls, president of Heartland Renaissance Fund, an affiliate of the Arkansas Capital Corporation Group.
"This opportunity with BlueOak aligns with our investment goals by coupling significant economic potential with a meaningful impact on society and the environment," says George Hopkins, executive director of the Arkansas Teachers' Retirement Fund.
"Our milestone today is indicative of a larger, more meaningful movement in which Silicon Valley meets industrial America, a phenomenon that is crucial to retaining U.S.' global competitiveness and fostering our work force," says Privahini Bradoo, CEO of BlueOak. "We believe that by coupling innovative technology approaches with the U.S.' wealth of manufacturing expertise and talent, we can transform what has become a crippling global problem into a tremendous economic opportunity for our investors, partners, community and country."