NEW YORK Big
River Steel LLCs proposed $1.1-billion steel mill is
moving forward as planned, with groundbreaking expected as soon
Equity holders and
other financiers will be visiting the proposed 1,200-acre site
some three miles south of Osceola, Ark., June 25, Clif
Chitwood, Mississippi County economic developer, told
AMM, while engineers are finalizing "tweaks,"
including rail layouts on the land.
"Were still on
schedule to the best of my knowledge," he said. "Were
expecting a number of equity holders and financiers to come
(June 25) to take a look at the site. That should be a smooth
meeting, after which were expecting a financial closing
in October and November. As soon as the finance closes,
well purchase the land and the project will be ready to
But moving forward
still requires certain air and land permits, he added,
including a stringent air permit through the Arkansas
Department of Environmental Quality.
through the permitting process right now. Theres no real
problem, its just that the process takes a while to work
through," he said. "(The air permit) is the only major one that
could actually affect things, while all the other ones being
worked through the U.S. (Army) Corps of Engineers, the Coast
Guard, are more discrete engineering problems that have
construction at the mill could face "inconvenient delays" due
to corn harvest season, Chitwood added.
The U.S. Environment
Protection Agency has also jumped on board through its Smart
Growth Implementation Assistance program, which provides
certain tools and resources for communities to incorporate
growth techniques into future city planning, according to its
website. Once selected, communities receive direct technical
assistance from a team of planning and policy contractors.
While the program doesnt offer a direct grant, it tries
to match communities with state or local funding.
A spokesman for the
program said that with the announcement of plans to construct
Big River Steel, the East Arkansas Planning and Development
District, along with other local partners, have been looking to
capitalize on existing infrastructure to develop housing
for the developments to ensure for the best quality life and
environment outcomes," he said.
Big River Steel, led
by industry veteran John D. Correnti, aims to supply steel
sheet to the oil and gas, automotive and electrical industries.
The proposed mill has been overwhelmingly supported by local
legislators because of the promise of some 550 jobs paying an
average of $75,000 per year.
Others, though, have
opposed the mill on grounds that there is already overcapacity
in the U.S. sheet market, including Nucor Corp., which has its
nearby Hickman plant. Last week, Nucor executive chairman
Daniel R. DiMicco told participants during the Steel Success
Strategies XXVIII conference in New York that the project makes
"no financial sense" due to industry overcapacity. But the
Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker will "deal with it," he