U.S. Steel Corp. announced January 11 that it would build its latest steel mill in Osceola, Arkansas, close to the company’s existing Big River Steel mill. The new $3 billion mini mill will add two electric arc furnaces to the site and almost double its annual capacity, increasing it by 3 million tons of raw steel to 6.3 million tons per year.
The announcement comes amid an extended supply chain crisis that has made it more difficult for manufacturers to get their hands on finished steel and a long-term trend in domestic steel companies towards expansion.
According to a presentation released by the company, U.S. Steel plans for steel from the new mill to target automotive, appliance, and construction end-markets with a product mix of 40% cold-rolled steel, 30% hot-rolled and 30% coated steel.
New lines currently under production at the site “will further advance U.S. Steel’s ability to respond to customers’ pressing supply chain needs to satisfy their own domestic manufacturing expansion,” the company said in a release.
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The company plans to break ground on the expansion sometime this quarter, with plans for the mill to become operational in 2024, though a release says confirmation of the site relies on some “final agreements with key partners.”
The new mill will be technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable, U.S. Steel said, and the company plans to apply for LEED certification once construction is complete. The mini mill will employ “endless casting” technology, which U.S. Steel says will lead to “significant energy, efficiency, and capability enhancements to the company’s operations.” U.S. Steel also says the mill will be the first use of endless casting and rolling technology available in the United States.
“With this location selected and shovels ready, we are reshaping the future of steelmaking,” said U.S. Steel CEO David Burritt, noting that Osceola offered “incomparable advantages.” A company presentation noted that site’s access to customers and suppliers alike as well as favorable electricity rates and government incentives. The site has access to railroads and interstate trucking routes as well as docks on the Mississippi River.
In a statement, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson thanked the state legislature, which, he said, was “critical” for attracting the new mill. “Arkansas has created an ideal business environment for the growth of the steel industry in our state.”
U.S. Steel acquired Big River Steel in January 2021 as it and other domestic steel companies seek to consolidate and expand their operations.