Münster - The laying of the foundation stone for the construction of an air separation plant at Le Creusot in Burgundy, France, took place on a site measuring some 30,000 square meters on Thursday. The client is Westfalen France S.à.r.l., a subsidiary of Westfalen AG in Münster. Westfalen France has been operating a cylinder bottling plant in Torcy since 2007, just a few miles from the future air separation plant.

Numerous guests of honor attended the ceremony, including Roland Fuchet, mayor of Torcy, and Jean Claude Lagrange, president of Le Creusot-Montceau, deputy Didier Mathus and prefect Michel Lalande.

About 30 companies from France, Italy and Germany are involved in the construction. In total, Westfalen is investing around 30 million euros in the new production site. The 63-meter high so-called cold box will be visible from afar. Upon completion in June 2010, the plant will produce approximately 50 million cubic meters of nitrogen, 30 million cubic meters of oxygen and 1.2 million cubic meters of argon. A significant portion will be used to supply the neighboring plant of Industeel, a subsidiary of Arcelor-Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker. In addition to the metal industry, food manufacturers will also be customers of the gases.

Wolfgang Fritsch-Albert, CEO of Westfalen AG, emphasized in his speech the good cooperation with the competent authorities and institutions in all phases of settlement, planning and approval. It is the first air separation plant of the Westfalen Group in France.

As a first step, up to ten skilled new jobs will be created by the Westfalen France plant.