Harsco Corporation announced today the groundbreaking for a new manufacturing plant in China that will expand Harsco’s capacity for the production of high-quality cryogenic gas tanks and liquid cylinders to serve Asia’s growing industrial gas markets.

Since entering China in the late 1990s, Harsco’s Taylor-Wharton cryogenic tank and cylinder unit has grown to become one of China’s market leaders for industrial gas, LNG and CNG vessels engineered and constructed in conformance with the industry’s most stringent international standards. The Taylor-Wharton unit, part of Harsco’s global GasServ business group, was one of the first foreign-invested enterprises in China to be licensed for all phases of cryogenic tank production.

The new plant, which replaces a smaller and less efficient facility in Beijing, is being built on a modern industrial site in Xiang He, Hebei Province in conjunction with Harsco’s minority joint venture partner, the multi-industry Jialong Group. The plant will give Harsco a nearly 50 per cent expansion in floor space over its prior facility together with an improved production layout that will support the manufacture of a full range of tanks up to 400 cubic meters in capacity. Transportation efficiency will also improve, as main highways to the nearby port of Tianjin, one of China’s largest, and to other major cities are close to the factory.

Harsco’s decision to expand production capacity in China comes as part of a targeted growth strategy that includes increasing inroads from other Harsco business units as well. Harsco’s industry-leading MultiServ mill services division is currently pursuing several opportunities to expand its base of nearly 15 years of outsourced mill services support to the Chinese steel industry, and expects to complete some of these agreements within the next four to six months.

The division currently supports more than eight million tons of steelmaking capacity in China with a range of onsite services at two major steelmaking works, Hang Zhou and TangShan. Harsco’s railway track maintenance division, which has received several major equipment orders from China including its largest single order ever, expects to see additional opportunities within the Ministry of Railway’s upcoming five-year technology advancement plan for the Chinese railway system. Harsco chairman, president and CEO Derek C. Hathaway said that Harsco will in early 2006 open a centralised business development office in Beijing to further coordinate the company’s growing China and Asia market opportunities.