NEW YORK Nucor Corp. has begun shipments from its wire rod mill in Darlington, S.C., as it concludes commissioning the new facility, a company spokeswoman told AMM.
The new mill, part of the companys Darlington bar mill, has an annual capacity of 300,000 tons in a range of sizes.
"Nucor is concluding the commissioning of its newly constructed wire rod mill at the Nucor Steel-South Carolina bar mill in Darlington. The new mill is capable of producing wire rod down to 5.5 mm (7/32 inch) and bar-in-coil up to 2 inches. Wire rod production from the plant will focus on the full complement of low-, medium- and high-carbon products," the spokeswoman said via e-mail.
Nucor plans to move up the product mix and produce wire rod for prestressed concrete (PC) strand by early 2014, AMM understands.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker confirmed that customers have begun receiving wire rod from the mill. One rod buyer said he had some material in his yard that he was getting ready to test.
"So as far as were concerned, this is going to improve the quality of what they sell us," a second wire rod buyer said.
Nucor said in 2012 that the mill would have a four-stand pre-finishing block, an eight-stand rod block and a four-stand sizing block, in addition to thermo-mechanical rolling capability and a 100-meter-long Stelmore deck (amm.com, April 11, 2012).
Darlington is less than 100 miles from ArcelorMittal SAs Georgetown, S.C., mill, which also produces wire as small as 7/32 inch.
Market sources speculated that the extra capacity brought online at Nucors new wire rod mill could have a softening effect on prices as the two mills, Georgetown and Darlington, compete in the market.
Due to weak demand, Georgetown has been running two shifts instead of three for months and laid off 30 employees in the fourth quarter of 2012 (amm.com, March 19).
"Its going to make the market even more competitive for the mills, and its going to drive prices down," the first wire rod buyer said.
A third wire rod buyer said it may be some time before Nucor can compete with Georgetown on high-carbon wire rod, however. "I wouldnt write Georgetowns obituary just yet," he said. "I think around the edges theyre going to hurt them, but initially Nucors entry over the next six months may have more of an effect on Gerdau" Long Steel North Americas mill in Jacksonville, Fla., which produces low-carbon wire rod.
Nucors new mill is part of a $290-million investment in special bar quality (SBQ) and wire rod capacity the company announced in January 2012 in Darlington, Memphis, Tenn., and Norfolk, Neb. (amm.com, Jan. 25, 2012).