NEW YORK ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA Inc. has officially fired up the melt shop at its facility in Calvert, Ala., which has the capacity to produce 900,000 tonnes of stainless slab per year.
"The full operation of the worlds most technologically advanced stainless steel manufacturing facility is what we have all worked toward since we first announced we would make Alabama our home in May 2007," chief executive officer Michael Wallis said in a statement.
While the melt shop officially launched Monday, the company said the ramp-up has been running ahead of schedule.
"The team members and I ran our first successful heat on Friday, Nov. 16, processing 166 tonnes of stainless steel grade AISI 304," melt shop director Guido Stebner said in the statement.
The facility last month was reported as having begun buying stainless scrap and ferroalloys for the start-up (amm.com, Nov. 13).
The melt shop was estimated to cost 400 million ($529 million) and consists of a 160-tonne electric-arc furnace, 180-tonne argon oxygen decarbonization converter and a 72-inch continuous caster (amm.com, Dec. 10, 2010).
In the interim, the companys European operations supplied the facility with stainless slab.
TK Stainless started finishing operations at the plant in 2009, and has now hired 714 employees of a planned work force of 953, which is expected by 2015, according to the statement.
The company is a subsidiary of Inoxum Group, the stainless arm of German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG, which is set to become part of Finnish stainless producer Outokumpu Oyj following the recent closing of a merger between the two companies.
The pace of the melt shops ramp-up has been cited by analysts as a key factor in what is expected to be a "challenging" domestic stainless market next year (amm.com, Sept. 27).