South Carolina’s Georgetown steelworks restarts

The historic Georgetown steelworks in South Carolina, which has been idle for almost three years, restarted June 25, marking the arrival of Sanjeev Gupta’s global GFG Alliance in the United States. Liberty Steel, which is owned by GFG Alliance, purchased the mill at the end of 2017.

GFG Alliance is a London-based metals, mining, engineering, energy and financial services group.

A ceremony to reignite the first of Liberty Steel’s furnaces in Georgetown took place before an audience of elected representatives, local dignitaries, customers, union officials, group executives and the local workforce. It marked a key milestone for Liberty Steel in the U.S. and the first step toward restoring full production to the 750,000-metric-ton-per-year plant.

During the ceremony, Group Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said the recommissioning of the plant’s furnaces and wire rod mills would be the first in a series of GFG projects across the U.S. and Canada, amounting to more than $5 billion in investments throughout the next few years. Of this, $1 billion is expected to be invested during the coming year to acquire and develop steel, aluminum, engineering, mining, energy generation and financial services assets, he said. The group also is establishing a New York regional head office as a hub for its global business.

The restart puts 125 steelworkers back to work immediately, many of whom are former employees returning to the plant. This figure will rise to 320 direct jobs in the medium term as orders and output rise for the site’s range of wire rod products used in the automotive and construction sectors, according to GFG Alliance.

Gupta praised those whose hard work helped to bring the production equipment back online following the plant’s acquisition by Liberty Steel in December 2017. He thanked those who supported the restart of the site, including the Georgetown Council, the South Carolina state government, the United Steelworkers and many other local and industry stakeholders.

“This is a historic moment in the story of Liberty Steel and GFG,” Gupta said. “It marks our first step into the American market and is as much a milestone for us in the USA as the restart of Liberty Steel Newport after a similar shutdown period was in the U.K. That triggered a cascade of major acquisitions, investments and turnaround successes for GFG in the U.K. I very much hope and expect that a similar journey has started today for our family in the USA.

“This first investment is our vote of confidence in the future of metals and [the] heavy industrial sector in the USA,” he continued.

Gupta said Liberty Steel is committed to low-carbon production methods that include recycling scrap metal and, where possible, using renewable energy to power its furnaces and mills. This model, known as Greensteel, involves integrating energy, metal making and downstream manufacturing to add as much value as possible within the business, GFG Alliance says.

“We will aim to capture as much value as we can, creating and sustaining high-quality jobs for American workers and providing a bright future for communities such as Georgetown, which has shown us great support and enthusiasm since we arrived,” he added.

Liberty Steel has appointed Revansidha “Rohit” Gulve, formerly general manager of Gerdau Steel, Beaumont, Texas, as the general manager of the Georgetown mill.

JSW Steel invests in Ohio EAF mill

The U.S.-based subsidiary of India-based JSW Steel Group has announced plans to invest as much as $500 million at an electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill it is acquiring in Mingo Junction, Ohio. Rumors that investors have been interested in restarting the mill have been circulating since 2016.

JSW Steel reportedly has acquired 83 percent of the Mingo Junction mill in 2018, with the remaining 17 percent to be transferred to JSW after future payments. JSW also owns a steel pipe mill in Baytown, Texas, and announced plans in March to invest $500 million at that site.

The Mingo Junction mill has changed hands several times since being opened by the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh steel company in 2004. It was later operated by Russia-based OAO Severstal and idled by that firm in 2009. A group calling itself Acero Junction Inc. announced its purchase of the property in 2016 and began operating some machinery at the mill in 2017.

The mill includes EAF capacity that is capable of producing 1.5 million metric tons of steel per year. The mill also has a 2.8-million-ton-per-year slab caster and a 3-million-ton-per-year hot-strip mill, designed to produce a range of steel grades in widths up to 78 inches wide and between 0.5 inch and 4 inches in thickness.

The JSW Steel investment plan is expected to be implemented in two phases, each expected to cost $250 million.

The first phase of the site’s development would include revamping and restarting the Ohio steel mill’s EAF and slab caster and modernizing the hot-strip mill. The steel mill’s EAF, installed in 2004, has been idled since 2009.

The second phase of the development project is contingent on market conditions, according to JSW. If it makes sense, the company says it will add a second EAF at the site. The firm cites the abundance of ferrous scrap in the area as well as the supply of natural gas as reasons to install the second EAF.

“Through the acquisition of Acero Junction, we will enhance our product range as we will be able to supply American melted and manufactured hot-rolled coils,” says Parth Jindal, director of JSW Steel (USA) Inc.

He continues, “It is our intention to further augment our capacity in Acero Junction over the next few years to have a combined capacity of 4 million tons per year steel; 3 million tons per year at Acero and 1 million tons per year at [Baytown].”