Big River sets sights on 'Big League' markets

Jul 10, 2014 | 04:29 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  steel production, new mill, mini-mill, Big River Steel, Mark Bula, hollow structural sections market, HSS, automotive steels electrical steels

CHICAGO — Big River Steel LLC’s $1.3-billion facility in Osceola, Ark., will sport new equipment and capabilities that should give the planned mini-mill a leg up on some aging competitors, according to a company executive.

Technology such as a Ruhrstahl-Heraeus (RH) degasser should allow the electric-arc furnace operation to produce high-end grades of steel—typically made by integrated mills—at a competitive price, chief commercial officer Mark Bula told AMM in an exclusive interview.

The RH degasser may prove to be the first in use by a U.S.-based flat-rolled mini-mill, he said.

"I hate to use the old language ‘innovate or die,’ but that’s applicable here," Bula said. "There are high-cost mills with old equipment that eventually aren’t going to be able to produce the qualities or grades of steels at the cost new mills can."

Contrary to claims of contributing to overcapacity, Bula said competition will benefit steel users and other steelmakers, as both push to make new and better products. "We are going to use technology to try to develop some new steels that ultimately improve the end product. And that’s not a typical mini-mill commitment," he said.....

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