Westwin Elements sparked headlines worldwide in the last few weeks with the announcement they're building America's first and only cobalt refinery in Lawton, Oklahoma, but as the opinions are understandably mixed, the finer details have seemingly been missed.

People will argue all day as to whether cobalt refining is safe for employees or the surrounding area, but if starting pay really will be six figures, a turnover shakeup is headed for the Lawton industrial park.

Of all of the media stories that have been published, only a few have eluded to the rumored high-for-Lawton pay.

OK Energy Today published that the average income for a Westwin cobalt refinery worker will be $100,000.

The radio stations in Westin Elements headquarter city of Bartlesville also repeated that identical claim in the news blurb they published on their website...

That would be huge news if true, especially since most of Lawton's most sought-after industrial jobs pay significantly less. Goodyear currently advertises starting pay in the $18-$19-ish hourly area, which is good for Lawton but less than half of what Westwin is rumored to pay. Bar-S and the paper mill in the industrial park likely wouldn't be able to match a six-figure pay offer either.

If you do the Googling to track down the source, this $100,000 salary as starting pay blurb is attributed to Richard Rogalski, executive director of Lawton Economic Development Corporation, printed in this article by the Southwest Ledger.

Rogalski is attributed by several media outlets in talking about the refinery's potential $100,000 average salary, but only the Southwest Ledger included the bit about "starting pay." Odds are that was a little mistake that managed to get by the SL editors.

When Lawton Mayor Stan Booker was asked about this, he offered a more logical explanation of the $100,000 salary average...

That’s a great mark, that’s our benchmark, $100,000 jobs, and that is an average. That means there will be people who make much less and there will be people that make more and that’s an average.

While opinions will continue to vary over whether or not the perceived risks are worth the rewards, it'll be a good thing for Lawton if it comes to fruition. It's a $ 450-million-dollar project that will be years in the making. Let's hope investors will back it long enough to get it going.

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