Steel Mills

Nucor Chooses N.C. for New $350M Rebar Micromill

Written by Michael Cowden

Nucor plans to build its $350 million rebar “micro mill” in Lexington, N.C., in response to growth in the Southeast and in anticipation of increased demand from federal infrastructure spending.

The new mill is expected to have capacity of 430,00 tons per year. Construction is slated to take roughly two years pending permits and other regulatory approvals, the Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker said.

Nucor“The corridor between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing regions in our nation, and new federal spending for infrastructure will further increase demand for rebar in the region,” Nucor president and CEO Leon Topalian said in a statement on Thursday, April 7.

Nucor said in December that it planned to build a third micro mill but did not specify at the time where in Southeast the mill would be located.

The Lexington micro mill will be Nucor’s third. The company started up micro mills in Sedalia, Mo., and Frostproof, Fla., in 2020.

Micro mills have less capacity than traditional rebar mills and are targeted to serve specific locations, giving them a leg up on freight costs compared to competing mills farther away.

President Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law in November. Rebar – used to reinforce concrete in roads, bridges and tall buildings – is more closely tied to construction work than most other steel products.

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) estimates that the infrastructure bill authorizes funding for $850 billion in steel-containing infrastructure, which equates to as much as 40-45 million tons of steel demand in total. But that figure drops to $450 billion – or 20-25 million tons of new steel demand – once existing trust funds are considered.

Nucor competitor Commercial Metals Co. (CMC) also has plans to build a new rebar micro mill – one to better serve markets in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

Irving, Texas-based CMC has been another trailblazer when it comes to building micro mills. The steelmaker commissioned the world’s first micro mill in Mesa, Ariz., in 2009. The company in 2018 commissioned a second micro mill in Durant, Okla., that it had begun work on in 2015. And it is now building a second micro mill in Mesa.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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