US Steel completes investment in Big River Steel

Big River Steel (BRS), Osceola, Arkansas, says it has completed the transaction announced earlier this year in which Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp. would become a minority owner of the company’s scrap recycling and steel production business.

Under the agreement, which assumes a $2.33 billion enterprise value, U.S. Steel will hold a 49.9 percent ownership interest in BRS’ Osceola-based Flex Mill.

“I applaud U.S. Steel’s leadership team and board of directors for taking this bold step as part of their effort to advance their company by drawing from the best of both the integrated and minimill steelmaking communities,” says David Stickler, chief executive officer of BRS. “With U.S. Steel joining the already formidable ownership group at Big River Steel, I anticipate an acceleration of our growth and expansion plans. I look forward to working closely with Dave Burritt, U.S. Steel’s president and chief executive officer, and the other members of his team to prove that the most advanced steels in the world can be produced in the United States in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

BRS is currently installing equipment and technology at its Osceola mill that will double its annual production capacity from 1.65 million tons to 3.3 million tons of flat-rolled steel. The efforts underway will facilitate BRS’ ability to produce even higher grades of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.

According to U.S. Steel’s third-quarter earnings report, the company’s investment in BRS is its No. 1 priority. During its third-quarter earnings conference call, Burritt said U.S. Steel plans to acquire 100 percent of the company. He says it also plans to be flexible with its portfolio of strategic investment spending.

Arizona approves air permit for aluminum smelter

According to local press reports, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has approved Alliance Metals’ application for an air quality permit for its proposed $30 million secondary aluminum smelting plant in Wenden, Arizona, in La Paz County.

According to an article at AZcentral.com, Loren Barton, vice president of Miami-based Alliance Metals USA, released a statement that the smelter will include “state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure and mitigation controls to contain emissions and protect air and water quality.”

© Joseph Gough / Dreamstime.com

The facility will consume aluminum scrap to produce aluminum ingots for the auto, aerospace or military industries.

In an interview with Recycling Today, Barton says the company plans to open the Wenden smelting facility toward the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

Although some individuals in the community have expressed concerns about the proposed smelting facility, Barton says Alliance Metals has reached out to community members to alleviate concerns and dispel misinformation that has been shared online. The company also has reached out to the county’s board of supervisors to tell them more about the proposed facility.

“With newer technology we have and better emission capture devices, we’re informing [the community] of our practices and how they’re environmentally sound,” he says. “We’ve hosted job fairs to educate people, and those have gone very well with great turnouts. People are now understanding of our processes.”

Alliance Metals also plans to open a smelting facility in either March or April in Leighton, Alabama. Barton says the northwest Alabama site already has been developed and is ready to move equipment into, though the company is still waiting to receive an air quality permit for the site from the state.

Barton says the Leighton facility is expected to consume 120 million pounds of aluminum per year at startup. It will accept a variety of scrap metals, including aluminum, brass and copper.

SDI La Farga to expand Indiana facility

Copper producer SDI La Farga LLC has announced plans to invest $16 million to expand its New Haven, Indiana, copper recycling operation. The investment is expected to add up to 30 jobs by the end of 2021, according to the company.

SDI La Farga is a joint venture between Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Barcelona, Spain-based La Farga Group.

The facility currently produces 180 million pounds of finished copper products per year using one furnace to melt and refine copper scrap. The expansion plan will include the addition of a second furnace to its existing facility, which will allow SDI La Farga to increase its production capacity to 250 million pounds of copper year.

“We have had tremendous growth since our inception, which is a testament to our teammates,” says Kurt Breischaft, SDI La Farga president. “This expansion will help us better serve our customers in the Midwest, and specifically in Indiana. We’ll be able to operate more efficiently, ramp up our production and create more jobs in New Haven, which has been a great place to do business.”

Assisting with the expansion plan, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered SDI La Farga up to $255,000 in conditional tax credits. The tax credits are performance-based and are contingent on the number of employees hired.