Big River Steel considers southern Texas mill

A newspaper based in Brownsville, Texas, has reported that Arkansas-based Big River Steel is considering locating a $1.5 billion steelmaking facility in the Brownsville area.

The online article from the Brownsville Herald quotes an individual involved in transportation support and economic activities for the Port of Brownsville as saying Brownsville is competing with Osceola, Arkansas, (the site of Big River’s current mill) for the investment. The two southern cities are competing to host a second scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) “flex steel mill” line similar to Big River’s existing one in Osceola. 

The logistics company official quoted said economic development agencies in Texas are working to assemble tax deferrals and other incentives to convince Big River to build the mill at the Port of Brownsville. Steel products made by the mill would in part “supply the automotive and vehicle component industries in Texas and Mexico,” according to the newspaper.

The newspaper’s source says Big River may be several months away from its decision, and that politicians and economic development agencies in both locations are assembling their incentive packages to compete for the mill.

Hilco and MCM purchase ship recycling and scrap processing complex in Texas

Hilco Redevelopment Partners, Northbrook, Illinois, a unit of Hilco Global (Hilco), and MCM Marine Services, an affiliate of MCM Management Corp. (MCM), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, have announced that they completed a transaction to purchase the assets of one of the largest and busiest ship recycling and scrap processing companies in the world, formerly known as ESCO Marine.

The new company will open under the name SteelCoast, with a new management and operations team to begin running the business immediately. SteelCoast’s headquarters are in Brownsville, Texas.

The joint venture deal closed May 1, 2017, following U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceedings presided over by Judge David R. Jones. Hilco and MCM acquired the assets from the previous ship recycling and scrapping operation, which were sold following a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding filed in 2015. Financial details and purchase price were not disclosed.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners Executive Vice President and SteelCoast board member Roberto Perez says, “Putting a deal together to acquire and relaunch this unique ship recycling and scrap processing business was complex, especially given the nature of the assets and our goal of maintaining key U.S. government client relationships. Following a lengthy diligence process, we are confident that SteelCoast has a very substantial growth path.”

Rob Mardigian, CEO of MCM and a SteelCoast board member, says, “Hilco and MCM have become very proficient at identifying new opportunities for industrial facilities that many have viewed as too challenging to tackle.”

MCM and Hilco have collaborated on industrial real estate remediation and redevelopment projects in recent years, including major automobile original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sites, energy-generating facilities and, recently, the 3,100-acre redevelopment project called Tradepoint Atlantic, the former site of Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore.

The companies say SteelCoast is expected to be one of the largest and most technologically advanced reclamation, remediation and recycling firms in North America. The Brownsville facility, which has undergone more than $1 million in renovations and improvements already, will provide a complete solution, including the recycling of huge oceangoing vessels (military and nonmilitary) from around the world, the partners say.

SteelCoast also will dismantle decommissioned, idled or underused oil rigs, locomotives, railcars and other industrial and commercial sources of recyclable metals. Additionally, SteelCoast will process automobiles and other light metal products in its 4,500-horsepower shredder. These reclamation and recycling projects allow for the scrap processing of ferrous and nonferrous metals during the dismantling process. SteelCoast will work to process and resell the scrap to be used in various manufacturing industries.

Hilco and MCM also have announced the hiring of Kris Wood as CEO at SteelCoast and say they are in the process of adding an experienced operations and management team. Working with Wood over many months, SteelCoast has developed a detailed business plan that includes an investment in sales support to build upon its client base, which includes contracts with the U.S. Navy and marketing and reselling of recyclables. SteelCoast also has immediate plans to invest millions of dollars more into infrastructure, berths, technology and equipment to ensure the facility is a leading ship recycling and scrap processing facility, the companies say.

Wood has experience within the ship recycling and scrap processing industry. As a lifelong south Texas resident, he worked at the former company for more than 12 years, having touched almost every operational and administrative aspect of the business as he added new management responsibilities throughout his career.

SteelCoast immediately will commence the work of dismantling the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga and former MARAD (United States Maritime Administration) vessels Shenandoah and Yellowstone.