Steel Mills

Big River Steel Development on Schedule

Written by Sandy Williams

Big River Steel received its air quality permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality on Sept. 19, clearing the way for final financing and preparation for construction. The company plans on breaking ground between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2013. 


The construction of the $1.1 billion plant is projected to take 18 months and provide approximately 2,000 construction related jobs for northeast Arkansas. 

“By mid-October, we’ll be putting out the bid packages for the major site preparation work.  That’s clearing the land, putting the roads and railroads in, putting the ramp over the top of the levee and up to the river,” said Big River developer John Correnti to Talk Business. 

In the meantime, Correnti is working on the final financing for the $250 million that must be invested before state funding is released.  Contract negotiations are also underway for major equipment for the mill.  Arkansas Economic Development Director Grant Tenille said the plant will be built by SMS Group, headquartered in Germany. 

Production start-up for the mill is anticipated for late 2015. Big River Steel will produce niche steels for the automotive, OCTG and electrical infrastructure industries.  According to Big River sources, during the first phase the mill will be able to produce advanced high strength steels (AHSS) used in the automotive industry. This will include dual phase, complex phase, martensitic steel, and farrite bainite steel. For the pipe and tube industry, Big River will be able to produce wide and thick steels up to and including 1.00” gauge out to 76” in width. The mill will be able to produce X80 and X100 grades in wider thickness ranges than other traditional mills. To accommodate electrical steel demand, Phase 1, when completed, will be able to make motor lamination steel with some non-grain oriented steel. During phase 2 the mill will install equipment needed to make fully-processed non-grain and grain oriented silicon steels. The plant is expected to employ about 525 workers. 

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