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Nucor to build wire rod mill at Darlington plant

Keywords: Tags  Nucor, rod mill, Darlington, merchant bar, special bar quality, Rex Query, corinna petry

CHICAGO — Nucor Corp. will construct a wire rod mill as part of the $120-million expansion at its Darlington, S.C., steel works, Rex Query, vice president and general manager at the Darlington plant, told AMM.

The company expects to start up the new mill during the third quarter of 2013, targeting the Southeast market, he said.

The new rod mill will consist of a four-stand pre-finishing block, an eight-stand rod block and a four-stand sizing block. The sizing block is needed "so we can achieve the high tolerances," Query said, noting that the new mill is a custom configuration.

"With our current setup in Darlington, we have two rolling mills that overlap in the sizes they can produce. (Under the new set-up), we will feed billets off the larger mill, from the roughing stands into the rod mill. We will replace some of the old stands with additional new roughing stands," he said.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker announced in January plans to spend $290 million to expand special bar quality (SBQ) and wire rod capacity by a combined 1 million tons at three steel mills, including Darlington (AMM, Jan. 26), but didn’t offer any specifics. Last week, the Darlington County Council approved ordinances to support the proposed Darlington expansion project (AMM, April 9).

In addition to building a wire rod mill, Nucor also will add thermo-mechanical rolling capability at the Darlington operation, Query said. "The purpose is to reduce or eliminate subsequent processing."

This feature, along with a new 100-meter-long Stelmore deck, will allow the mill to tightly control temperature in order to manage grain growth. This process will allow Nucor to "achieve certain properties in the steel," Query said, and the deck’s extended length will allow for a larger product range.

Nucor currently produces up to 5- by 5-inch angles, 8-inch flats, 6-inch channels and SBQ rounds from 916 to 3916 inches, Query said. With the rod mill, it also will make rod and bar in coil from 732 to 2 inches while expanding its SBQ and hexagon sizes.

The expanded plant will be able to produce coil up to 5,400 pounds compared with the current maximum of 3,400 pounds, he said, stressing that the product range, not the overall capacity, is increasing with this project.

Nucor also will install a new cooling bed for high-tolerance straightness and scratch-free bars, Query added. "We want scratch-free product because customers are interested in the physical characteristics and performance for many surface-critical applications."

Query said that "as we commission the equipment we will be in a mid- to low-carbon product and then work into higher carbon and higher end-uses for a broad range of customers. Longer term, the goal is to be a higher-end supplier."

Nucor also will build laboratory and testing facilities at Darlington.

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