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Turkish steelmaker to halt production

Koc Metalurji, a Turkish steelmaker based in Istanbul, says it will stop production at its Iskenderun, Turkey, plant from the end of September until January 2020 in light of the market situation in Turkey, according to Argus Media.

The steelmaker primarily sells its billet domestically to small-to-medium-sized Iskenderun rebar producers, and the “gradual deterioration of Turkish domestic consumer demand on the weakening of the national economy led Koc’s local billet customers to slowly reduce their own demand over a prolonged period,” Argus Media reports.

According to Koc Metalurji’s website, it has the capacity to produce billet ranging in size from 130 to 160 millimeters squared (roughly 5 inches to just over 6 inches squared) and rebar. It operates a 100-ton electric arc furnace (EAF) in Iskenderun, according to the Turkish Steel Producers Association.

Argus Media reports that the company has not made any deep-sea scrap purchases since late June for delivery in July, adding that Koc Metalurji bought “most of its deep-sea scrap in 2019 from one Russian exporter and one U.S. exporter. Prior to 2019, the mill bought from a wider geographical variety of deep-sea scrap sources.”

US steel shipments increase in July 2019

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Washington, has reported that for the month of July, U.S. steel mills shipped 8.1 million net tons of steel, a 5.1 percent increase from the 7.7 million net tons they shipped in the previous month of June, and a 2.6 percent increase from the 7.9 million net tons shipped in July 2018.

Shipments year to date in 2019 are 56.3 million net tons of steel, a 2 percent increase compared with 2018 shipments of 55.2 million net tons for the first seven months of the year, AISI reports in a news release.

A comparison of July shipments to the previous month shows the following changes: cold-rolled sheets were up 9 percent, hot-rolled sheets were up 6 percent and hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip had no change.

American Zinc Recycling to restart North Carolina operations in 2020

Pittsburgh-based American Zinc Recycling LLC (AZR) has announced that the repair and restart of its Rutherford County, North Carolina, zinc refining facility owned by its subsidiary American Zinc Recycling Corp. (AZR Corp.) are underway. The facility, which removes and refines metals to make special high-grade (SHG) zinc and continuous galvanizing grade, caught fire April 28.

The company reports that its rebuilding project is proceeding according to schedule, with a restart targeted for the first quarter of 2020.

When the rebuilt Mooresboro, North Carolina, facility is fully operational, the company expects it to produce 155,000 tons of SHG zinc per year.

According to a news release issued by AZR, the company also will be repairing and replacing portions of AZR Corp.’s electric arc furnace (EAF) dust recycling facility in Calumet, Illinois. The company is pursuing other potential sites where it can expand its EAF dust recycling capability.

“We have been investing in our recycling facilities during the last two years to improve safety, strengthen environmental controls and enhance operations,” says Rodrigo Daud, the chief executive officer for AZR. “We are also continuously working to strengthen our relationships with our communities and other stakeholders.”

Daud continues, “I’m very excited to see the progress we are making in Rutherford County. Once operational, our facility will allow AZR Corp. to offer services that will close the zinc recycling loop, as AZR Corp. will be the only company in North America that be able to recycle the EAF dust into SHG zinc. We will continue to follow our mission of sustainable manufacturing, recycling harmful materials into valuable products.”

City of Chicago, General Iron reach agreement on the company’s relocation

The administration of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, working with Alderman Brian Hopkins and Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, has provided an update on its efforts to work with scrap processor and auto shredder operator General Iron Industries Inc. regarding operations at its existing facility at 1909 N. Clifton Ave., which will cease operations in 2020. In 2021, Reserve Management Group (RMG), Cleveland, will relocate the business to a new facility to be developed at that company’s existing location on Chicago’s south side.

“The agreement reached this week with General Iron will make way for an exit plan that will ensure the company continues to meet all regulatory standards and prioritizes protecting public health and the environment while it winds down operations at its north side facility,” according to a press release issued by the Lightfoot administration.

The agreement is designed to increase transparency for the community and all stakeholders, establish clear expectations for the parties involved and set the stage for the transition from the company’s current site to a new and expanded metal recycling plant in 2021, the news release states.

“The city’s new agreement with General Iron will ensure the company meets all applicable environmental regulations and operating requirements under its current permit and will provide a clear timeline for its eventual relocation,” says Chicago’s corporation counsel Mark Flessner.

The new agreement lays out a series of additional requirements for General Iron to fulfill to ensure a safe and manageable relocation and to maintain its operating agreement with the city. First, General Iron must continue to adhere to all applicable legal and environmental requirements. Second, the company must cease all metal recycling operations by Dec. 31, 2020, and post signage informing the public of the closure near the plant’s entrances at least one month prior to ceasing operations. Finally, effective immediately, General Iron must provide traffic control to mitigate congestion that occurs during rush hour, managing truck congestion so as not to impede neighboring businesses.

“I accept the plan developed by both the city and General Iron to ensure my community and all stakeholders have a clear path forward on the decommissioning of the facility next year,” says Alderman Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward. “This agreement provides our community a clearer understanding of the plan for the company’s transition, takes appropriate action to address the significant traffic congestion issues caused near the facility and will allow us to look ahead to focus on the priorities of the North Branch Corridor and the 2nd Ward.”

As part of its move to the new south side facility, the company will adopt new environmental features at its new recycling facility, which will feature an enclosed auto shredder equipped with a suction hood, high-efficiency filters, solar panels and air-monitoring technologies. The move also is expected to create new jobs for the community and to make way for apprenticeship opportunities.

The company has taken steps to bolster its environmental practices and facility features by adding new equipment, including the first regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) and scrubber at a Chicago recycling facility in 2019. These features will be transferred to and placed into operation at the new site.

“We are grateful for the mayor and her team’s leadership in forging an appropriate compromise to support the continuity of the critical service that General Iron has performed for more than a century,” says Adam Labkon, vice president of General Iron.

General Iron and RMG have a plan that will allow RMG to acquire all the business and assets of General Iron at its Lincoln Park site. Both companies entered into a strategic agreement in July to relocate the facility to the south side. The city and General Iron have committed to an ongoing process allowing the parties to resolve issues or concerns during the transition, the press release notes.

Bluescope to proceed with expansion of its North Star steel mill

Australian steel producer Bluescope has reported a net profit after tax (NPAT) of AU$1,015.8 million ($688.4 million) and an underlying NPAT of $966.3 million for its 2019 fiscal year, an increase of 17 percent from its previous fiscal year.

Bluescope Managing Director and CEO Mark Vassella says, “Underlying EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) for the year was AU$1,348.3 million ($913.7 million), up 6 percent or AU$79 million ($53.5 million) over FY2018. This was our third successive full-year underlying EBIT above $1.1 billion. Despite some softening in commodity steel spreads and domestic volumes in the second half, in FY2019 Bluescope delivered another very good result.”

He says the company is focused on generating returns above its cost of capital to create value for shareholders, having delivered pretax return on invested capital (ROIC) of 19.5 percent in the 2019 fiscal year, which was down slightly from the 20 percent ROIC Bluescope achieved in fiscal 2018.

On the company’s key strategic focus area of investing for long-term profitable growth, Vassella says, “After careful due diligence, today we advise that the board has approved the expansion of our successful North Star business at Delta, Ohio, subject to anticipated receipt of necessary air permits and local and state incentives. Bluescope will add around an additional 850,000 metric tons (937,000 short tons) per annum of domestic steelmaking capacity in the U.S. With an estimated cost of $700 million, commissioning of the expansion is targeted for mid FY2022, with full ramp-up approximately 18 months later.”

He adds that the electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill expansion project is expected to deliver ROIC of 15 percent or more once fully ramped-up. “The project has future potential growth, through possible debottlenecking, to add a further 500,000 metric tons (551,000 short tons) per annum of steelmaking capacity.”

Vassella says Bluescope has made changes to its executive leadership team related to the North Star expansion. Chief Executive of Civil Engineering for Bluescope Pat Finan has been named chief executive of hot-rolled products North America, responsible for the North Star operations and the expansion project.

Alec Highnam, president of Bluescope North America, will take on the expanded role of chief executive of Bluescope Buildings, leading the company’s engineered steel building business in North America and taking on executive responsibility for Bluescope’s other corporate interests there, Vassella says.