February 2, 2015 / 10:24 PM / 4 years ago

Apple to invest $2 billion to convert sapphire plant to data center

A man talks on his telephone as customers walk through an Apple store in Grand Central Terminal in New York, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) - Apple Inc said it plans to invest $2 billion to convert a failed sapphire glass plant in Arizona into a data center.

Apple teamed up with GT Advanced Technologies Inc, to set up the plant in Mesa in 2013 to manufacture scratch-resistant sapphire screens for Apple devices.

But GT Advanced filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October and closed the plant, which was owned by Apple, after the company’s sapphire glass was left out of Apple’s newest iPhones.

“This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made,” Apple spokeswoman Rachel Wolf said in a statement on Monday.

The $2 billion investment will stretch over 10 years with a 30 year-commitment from Apple to keep the facility running, Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, said by email.

The facility will be a data center as well as a command center for managing Apple’s other data centers and networks, which handle traffic from services like iTunes, iCloud and Siri.

It is expected to create 600 engineering and construction jobs at the data center, Apple said, adding that the plant would be powered mostly by solar energy.

As it wound down its sapphire production in October, GT Advanced said it was laying off about 650 employees at the plant.

Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Jonathan Oatis

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