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There is a rich and detailed history of steel-making in Sydney. It has played an important part in shaping the local community and its people. Preserving the history of steelmaking in Sydney is important. There are many facets and many faces to the story.

Recently, a local committee has been formed to explore the possibility of establishing a steel museum in Sydney. The group consists of the Chamber of Commerce, Sydney Downtown Merchants, Tourism Cape Breton, local residents, former steel workers and officials from SYSCO. SYSCO supports local efforts to establish the museum and is working as a practical resource for the group.

To provide some context for current activities at SYSCO, here is a very brief overview of the plant's history:

Product and Equipment

Historically the fully integrated plant produced coke and coke by-products, pig iron, bulk steel in the form of ingots and billets, as well as finished products such as rails, bars, rods, tie plates, wire and nails. After a major upgrade in 1989, the plant's processes included an electric arc furnace, continuous caster, bloom reheating furnace and rail milling facilities. When the plant ceased operations in 2000, the facility was a "mini-mill" based on Electric Arc Furnace steel making.

1899 - 1920 DISCO
Dominion Iron & Steel Company Limited
Construction of the steel plant started on July 1, 1899 – and two years later, in 1901, the plant was producing steel. In fact, by 1912, the plant was making almost half of all the steel in Canada. At its peak, SYSCO could produce 800,000 tonnes of pig iron and 900,000 tonnes of crude steel annually.

1920 – 1930 BESCO
British Empire Steel Corporation
In 1920, Dominion Iron & Steel joined forces with the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company Limited to form British Empire Steel Corporation (BESCO). This was in the period after World War I when the demand for steel and iron had lessened.

1930 - 1957 DOSCO
Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation
Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation (DOSCO) bought the steel plant in 1930 and ran it for 27 years.

1957 - 1967 Hawker-Siddley Group. The next private operator was the Hawker-Siddley Group, who bought the steel plant in 1957 and ran it for 10 years.

1967 - 2001 SYSCO
Sydney Steel Corporation Government of Nova Scotia
Finally in 1967, the steel plant was taken over by the Nova Scotia government – due to the likelihood of closure. At this point, the plant was named SYSCO by an Act of the Legislature.

  Sale Attempts & Closure

Ultimately, several factors such as changing technology and world market patterns marked the end of Sydney’s steel industry. Through the 1990s, government made several attempts to sell the plant to private owners. Despite these efforts, the last attempt to sell the plant concluded unsuccessfully in January 2001. Attention then turned to securing pensions and severance for workers, commencing demolition and clean up, selling assets, and developing a plan for the future of the property.
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