NEW YORK The Alabama State Port Authority expects
steel's role to increase even with the uncertainty surrounding
ThyssenKrupp AGs steel rolling facility in Calvert, Ala.
The agency has been investing in upgrades to steel services as
steel products become an increasing part of its business mix,
according to James K. Lyons, director and chief executive
officer of the Mobile-based port authority.
Despite some tailing off in the latter part of 2012, the Port
of Mobile has seen a growing number of slab imports thanks to
ThyssenKrupps operations in Calvert. This year, some 1.97
million tonnes of slab were imported by the United States in
January to September, according to U.S. Census data compiled by
AMM. That compares with just shy of 1.6 million tonnes in the
same period a year ago.
Essen, Germany-based ThyssenKrupp is seeking a partnership or
sale for its Steel Americas investments after the division has
posted large losses, thanks to surging costs in its Brazilian
slab operations and a weaker-than-expected North American steel
amm.com, May 15
Until more details emerge as to who may take the reins at
Calvert, the future for that portion of the ports
business will likely remain a bit uncertain, Lyons noted.
A lot of it depends on the buyer, and thats a bit
of an unknown. Its, I guess, a question that we all
have, Lyons said. What I do see today is that
theres not enough slab steel in the United States.
Lyons said he could foresee slabs continuing to be sourced from
Brazil, or from Russia or Ukraine. ThyssenKrupps current
model includes a slab-producing joint venture in Brazil, with
ThyssenKrupp holding a 73.13-percent stake and Vale SA holding
the remainder. The slabs are then shipped to Alabama to be
It would be hard for me to envision a supply chain that
would not involve our facility, Lyons said.
Its not just slab imports that will keep the port busy,
according to Lyons.
Our steel business has largely been imported ... but
export has become increasingly important. Certainly
ThyssenKrupp is an important factor in that. But we have a lot
of other steel mills that are well within our competitive
hinterland, he said, pointing to the proximity of
domestic steel producers SSAB Americas and Nucor Corp., both of
which have facilities in Alabama.
SSAB, for example, has said it plans to produce
quenched-and-tempered plate at its Axis, Ala., facility for
export to China (
amm.com, Nov. 2
Given its location, Lyons said that he expects Mobile to be a
crossroads for steel trade, noting that Mexico will
likely be a big market for many steel products, particularly as
that countrys automotive manufacturing industry continues
Meanwhile, the port is pushing forward with its steel-focused
updates with a repaving project at Pier C completed about two
months ago, Lyons said (
amm.com, Feb. 29
The port has also selected a location at the piers north
end for a new warehouse designed specifically for handling
cold-rolled coils, Lyons told AMM
. The warehouse will
be about 200,000 square feet, with the potential to be expanded
to 400,000 square feet.