Are Nucor’s BF ambitions a bad omen for dust recyclers?

Aug 21, 2008 | 12:20 PM |

Blast furnace technology appears poised for a dusting-off of sorts as costs for scrap used by electric-arc furnace (EF) steelmakers skyrocket, but whether that will cast a cloud over the EF dust sector remains to be seen.

EF steelmakers have been on a steady growth curve for much of the past 50 years. First, they tackled reinforcing bar and other long products like beams and structurals. In the past 20 years, they've invaded the sheet steel business and now account for about 60 percent of overall U.S. steelmaking capacity.

Riding on their coattails have been EF dust processors and other companies that specialize in providing outsourced services. Growth in processing EF dust hinges on the EF-based segment of the steel industry. Integrated steel mills use blast furnace iron and relatively little ferrous scrap with much of the waste products of their output normally held in the slag.

But Nucor Corp., the largest EF-based steelmaker in the United States, has laid plans to build a 3-million-ton-per-year blast furnace and produce iron for its own melt shops, with a proposed Louisiana site potentially being the first integrated steelmaking complex to be constructed in the United States since 1969.....

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