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Michelin plans to nearly double its earthmover tire capacity in Lexington, S.C.

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Groupe Michelin will invest $85 million over the next five years at its earthmover tire production facility in Lexington, S.C. The expansion will increase production of the facility and add more than 70 jobs by 2010.

The investment will be used for new buildings and substantial equipment additions (the work will begin immediately). The new employees will be phased in as the new equipment comes on line.

This latest announcement comes in addition to capacity increases announced in March 2005 and will serve the continued high demand for Michelin 57- to 62-inch radial earthmover tires for surface mining equipment.

"Demand for Michelin's radial earthmover tires is breaking every record," says Prashant Prabhu, head of Michelin Earthmover Tire worldwide. "This expansion increases our capacity for large surface mining tires by almost 50% at Lexington and allows us to better serve our customers by adding new capacity as quickly as possible."

Michelin has invested more than $2.2 billion in South Carolina over the last 30 years, according to Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc. An additional $165 million has been announced in the last 30 days. (Last month, the company announced that it will invest $80 million over the next six years at its raw materials plants in Anderson County, S.C.)

"This latest expansion speaks directly to the productivity of our employees and the profitability of our North American Michelin-brand plants," says Micali.

Governor Mark Sanford says Michelin "has been an incredibly strong partner for South Carolina in our efforts to create jobs for our citizens."

The current expansion plan gives Michelin the ability to grow further if needed to respond quickly to increasing market demand. The potential second phase could increase Lexington's production capacity even more. This additional phase "is contingent on the continued growth of a market that has seen explosive increases in recent years," adds the company.

Michelin has additional earthmover tire facilities in Spain and France and another facility under construction in Campo Grande, Brazil.

In February, Michelin announced the addition of another production line at its Spartanburg, S.C., commercial truck tire plant. The new line is dedicated to production of the X One wide single tire, whose sales have more than doubled each year since its introduction in 2000.

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