NEW ORLEANS Nucor Corp. has reaffirmed the possibility of building a steel mill or blast furnace at the site of its direct-reduced iron (DRI) facility in St. James Parish, La.
The 4,000-acre site gives the company scope to add steelmaking capacity or revisit its original plan for a blast furnace operation, Nucor chief executive officer John Ferriola told delegates at AMMs DRI & Mini-mills Conference in New Orleans.
"Given the large size of it, theres other things we might do. Were still considering putting in a blast furnace and coke ovens there," Ferriola said. "Frankly, we might put a steel mill in Louisiana. We have 4,000 acres to work with, (so) theres a lot we can do. Its a fantastic location."
Ferriola confirmed that the facility is expected to begin production at the end of this month and be "running at full steam" by the end of 2013, adding that the Charlotte, N.C.-based company is considering selling DRI to other consumers as the plant expands its production capacity.
"With the first unit well be consuming quite a bit ourselves. But were considering that very seriously, though the second unit will be a greater probability of selling DRI into the merchant market," he said. "Weve been approached by several companies looking to have a long-term offtake agreement for our DRI, and were considering that."
Ferriola acknowledged the change in feedstock mix is likely to have a wider impact on pig iron pricing. "We currently use quite a bit of pig iron, but clearly as we move forward that mix between pig iron and DRI will change. If that happens, we may see a difference in the pricing of pig iron," he said. "If that happens, well re-evaluate the situation. We dont have a preference; an iron unit is an iron unit is an iron unit. The addition of 2.5 million tons of DRI is not enough to displace our needs for (hot-briquetted iron) or pig iron entirely; all it does is give us a little more flexibility."
He said the companys pursuit of controlling more of the raw materials it consumes may extend to iron ore. "Were continuously looking for a bright opportunity to have more iron ore under our own control. Weve looked both domestically and internationally, but to date, honestly, we havent found the right proposition."