The proposed Braidy Industries aluminum mill complex near Ashland, Kentucky, will reportedly receive a $4 million grant from the federal government to help pay for concrete piers in its construction process.
An Oct. 21 Associated Press (AP) news story says the money has been awarded by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands to the Northeast Kentucky Regional Industrial Park Authority, the owner of the land on which the Braidy mill will be built. Although awarded by the commonwealth of Kentucky, “The money is part of the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program, which is funded by the United States Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement,” according to the report.
The funding announcement was jointly made by the U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, according to AP.
The proposed mill is owned by publicly listed Braidy Industries but also has received a $15 million investment in state funds voted on by the Kentucky legislature in 2017.
A Sept. 20, 2018, online article by the Louisville, Kentucky-based Courier-Journal points to concerns about the project’s status.
The author of that article, citing Braidy financial filings, says the $1.68 billion aluminum mill had up to that time required “a $1 billion federal loan, $500 million in credit from the German government and as much as $400 million from a crowdfund-style stock sale over the Internet.” (The German support ties to conditions for buying German-made mill equipment.)
The September Courier-Journal article and one from March 2018 have voiced skepticism about Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard. “Most of Bouchard’s past ventures grew through mergers and acquisitions – stitching together existing companies to combine multiple revenue streams to make a single number that might be impressive in size, but isn't always the best measure of long-term success,” writes the newspaper.
Bouchard’s earlier metals industry experience includes a stint as CEO of Real Industry and Real Alloy, a secondary aluminum producer that filed for bankruptcy in late 2017. The Courier-Journal says that bankruptcy filing was tied to “unsustainable debt service obligations” accumulated during Bouchard’s tenure.
From 2006 to 2008, Bouchard led an effort to salvage the assets of steel producer Wheeling-Pitt, eventually selling those assets to Russia’s Severstal shortly before the financial crisis hit.