Big River Steel (BRS) has begun operating its melt shop and hot mill, the third and fourth areas of the steelmaking complex to be commissioned in Osceola, Arkansas. The steel company had earlier commissioned the complex's batch anneal facility and temper mill.
The first hot-rolled coil produced was purchased by Zekelman Industries and will be sent to Atlas Tube, one of its structural tube mills, in Blytheville, Arkansas. Zekelman purchased the coil for $100,000, with the entire amount jointly contributed by Big River and Zekelman Industries to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC).
Under construction since July 2014, BRS’s mill will recycle about 2 million tons of scrap metal annually to produce 1.6 million tons of finished steel products. BRS says its flex mill is the first in North America to connect an electric arc furnace (EAF) to a Ruhrstahl Heraeus degasser and will be the only EAF mill in the United States to produce hot-rolled steel as thick as 1 inch and as wide as 78 inches.
Based on the technology being employed and the design of the facility, BRS says it will produce steel grades previously only available via integrated mills. When fully operational in early 2017, BRS says it will produce a range of material dimensions and strength levels never before produced in an EAF mill.
Dave Stickler, CEO of Big River Steel, says, “We are thrilled to be commemorating this milestone alongside Zekelman Industries. The Northeast Arkansas community, home to both Big River and one of Zekelman’s most advanced facilities, has embraced our arrival with open arms."
He continues, "In terms of joining with Zekelman Industries in supporting Wounded Warrior Project and Arkansas Northeastern College, we are honored to be able to do this so early in the life of our company. Having spent over $1 million on training services provided by Arkansas Northeastern College over the past 18 months, we have an extremely strong relationship with the college and we look forward to expanding this relationship in the coming years as we grow and expand Big River.”
Barry Zekelman, CEO and chairman of Zekelman Industries, says, “Zekelman Industries has operated in northeast Arkansas since 2007 and we have seen firsthand the quality of the workforce trained by ANC. My family and I have also had the honor of supporting the Wounded Warrior Project for several years.
"Big River’s willingness to join us in making these charitable contributions is much appreciated and we join others that operate industrial facilities in Northeast Arkansas in welcoming Big River to the community," Zekelman adds.