Steel Mills

Big River Steel Construction Update

Written by Sandy Williams

The $1.3 billion Big River Steel mill, in Osceola, Ark., is beginning to take shape. The site excavation, totaling 1,178,000 cubic yard, is nearly 100 percent complete, said Mark Bula, Chief Commercial Office in a progress report to Steel Market Update.

About 26 percent of the 235,000 cubic yards of concrete that will be needed during construction has been poured for the scrap pits, zinc pot basement, holding area and caster basement.

The steel columns and framing for the finishing mill structure have been erected. Bula told SMU one of the products being used is hollow structural sections (HSS) which will be an important customer market for Big River. The roof panels are scheduled next for the finishing mill.

Installation of the columns for the melt shop began June 6 and is continuing.

The sheet pile driving is underway for the Ruhrstahl-heraeus (RH degasser), a critical component of Big River’s “flex mill” that will allow BRS to make electrical steels and advanced high strength steels. The RH degasser will be the first of its kind connected to an EAF and compact strip production mill in the U.S. It allows for faster and more efficient removal of carbon compared to traditional vacuum tank degassers.

“The transformation of the site continues to amaze,” said Bula. “To think, a year ago at this time soybeans were sprouting in this field. Today, massive HSS columns are sprouting instead. We are looking forward to next year when our steel products will be the “crop” produced off this land.”

Big River Steel team members recently toured the SMS Hilchenbach facility in Germany. SMS will produce the advanced steelmaking equipment for Big River including a 150-ton electric arc furnace, CSP (compact strip production) plant, strip processing plant, cold-roll mill, batch annealer, galvanizer and l other metallurgical systems.

With the assistance of a simulation program called “Plug and Work,” team members were able to view the process of creating a steel coil with the SMS equipment package.

Big River Steel plans to begin production in 2016 with an annual production of 1.6 million tons of hot rolled, cold rolled, pickled and oiled, and galvanized steels.

SMU Note: Mark Bula will be one of the mill panelists who will be speaking at the 2015 Steel Summit Conference to be held in Atlanta on September 1 & 2. Details and registration can be found on our website.

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