Steel Products

Nucor Done With Over 50% of $10B CapEx Plan: Topalian

Written by Ethan Bernard

Nucor has completed slightly more than 50% of a $10-billion capital expenditures plan to grow its core steelmaking operations, Leon Topalian, company chair, president, and CEO, said in a second-quarter earnings conference call with investors.

Here is an update regarding several of the Charlotte, N.C.-based steelmaker’s projects.

Nucor Steel Gallatin (Sheet and Tube)

Topalian said the company continued the ramp-up in Q2 at its Nucor Steel Gallatin operation in Ghent, Ky.

He said the mill achieved full run-rate production levels in June and saw increasing levels of profitability each month of the quarter.

The Gallatin mill produced ~440,000 tons in Q2, according to a slide presentation accompanying the Q2’23 earnings call.

Construction on new tubular operations is continuing, with commissioning and startup to occur by Q4.

Nucor Steel West Virginia (Sheet)

Topalian said the company expects to begin construction in the coming weeks at its proposed sheet mill in Mason County, W.Va.

“We remain excited about this transformative project to serve the heartland of American steel consumption, with a considerably lower carbon footprint,” Topalian said.

The company anticipates a final federal permit very soon, according to the slide presentation, and a construction period to last about two years following receipt of all required permits.

The mill will have a “high-end” automotive galvanizing and construction line, according to Nucor’s website.

Topalian said that West Virginia is targeting about roughly a third of its overall mix to be in automotive.

Steve Laxton, Nucor EVP and CFO, said the company expects capital spending at the West Virginia mill to accelerate in the near term as construction begins.

Nucor Steel Brandenburg (Plate)

Topalian said Nucor is continuing to ramp up production at its Brandenburg electric-arc furnace (EAF) plate mill in Kentucky, adding that the focus there in 2023 is on “improving our capabilities rather than maximizing output.”

“We spent the first half of the year dialing in the caster and downstream operations, and we’re now producing finished products ranging in thicknesses from 1 to 12 inches,” Topalian said.

He said in H2’23 the mill is expected to produce ~300,000 tons “and turn profitable by year’s end.”

Al Behr, EVP of plate and structural products, specified further, saying Nucor expects around 100,000 tons of that in Q3 and 200,000 tons in Q4.

Nucor Steel Lexington (Bar)

Nucor broke ground on its new rebar micro-mill in Lexington, N.C., in May, Topalian said, with completion expected by early 2025.

“This highly efficient 430,000-ton bar mill will serve the growing construction markets throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions,” he added.

Capex Company-Wide

Laxton said that Nucor guided earlier in the year to an estimate of ~$3 billion in capex for 2023, and the company has spent ~$1 billion of that so far. 

Summing up, Topalian said: “Over the next several years, we’ll continue to execute on our capex plan to better position Nucor with more value-added steelmaking capabilities.”

Ethan Bernard

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