Steel Mills

Big Investment at Big River to Double Capacity

Written by Tim Triplett

Big River Steel had made no secret it was considering further expansion less than two years after opening the high-tech Flex Mill on the Mississippi River in Osceola, Ark, and today announced it will proceed with a $1.2 billion investment that will double the mill’s annual capacity to 3.3 million tons. Some of that tonnage will include higher grades of electrical steel, allowing the company to capitalize on the growing demand for energy-efficient products, notably hybrid and electric vehicles.

“Our $1.2 billion expansion will further cement Big River Steel’s position as a global leader in terms of advanced manufacturing and environmental stewardship,” said Dave Stickler, Big River Steel’s chief executive officer. “Announcing this investment less than 18 months after beginning operations is a testament to the hard work and great success of the men and women on our team.”

The company declined to comment on whether the Trump administration tariffs restricting steel imports had anything to do with the timing of Big River’s announcement.

Germany’s SMS Group has already begun engineering work, and construction on the two-year project will begin later this year.

In addition to doubling its hot-rolled steel production and enhancing its electrical steel capability, Big River is also contemplating the installation of a next-generation coating line focused on automotive applications. Such an installation may involve a steel industry partner, the company said. Big River Steel is also exploring opportunities to supply the market with grain-oriented steel products, either within this expansion phase or as a future endeavor.

“When Big River Steel chose Arkansas as the site of its new plant, it was the largest economic development project in the state’s history,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Our state’s pro-business climate has led to the company deciding to expand here. That means even more jobs and more investment in Arkansas.”

Since operations at the minimill began in early 2017, Big River Steel has provided steel products to nearly 200 customers in the automotive, energy, construction and agricultural industries.

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