A mid-May ceremony at North Star BlueScope Steel in Delta, Ohio, has marked the completion of a $700 million capacity expansion project at the facility. According to Australia-based BlueScope Steel Ltd., the expansion will increase annual hot-rolled steel coil production by 850,000 metric tons.
“This was a difficult build because of the pandemic, but we were still able to complete the project,” says Patrick Finan, BlueScope’s chief executive of hot rolled products in North America. He continues, “Next month, we’ll be making the first slab off the new caster, which is part of the expansion.”
North Star President Doug Lange says, “We continued to run throughout the build. It took a tremendous amount of coordination to build a steel mill in the middle of another steel mill.” Lange credits several entities for assisting the project, including “the State of Ohio, Fulton County, the Fulton County Economic Development Corp., Jobs Ohio, the local community and North Star’s team members.”
At the ceremony, Mark Vassella, BlueScope CEO and managing director, presented a large, framed photo of the scrap-fed electric arc furnace (EAF) minimill. He also announced the North Star team earned the CEO’s Health and Safety Excellence Award for 2021.
BlueScope is pointing to the Ohio mill expansion in just-released earnings guidance. The Australian firm announced it now expects underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to be in the range of $970 million to $1.05 billion for the second half of its fiscal year 2022. (That period runs from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year.)
That range is above the prior guidance range of $850 million to $960 million, though “subject to spread, foreign exchange and market conditions,” the company adds.
In a note to investors about the guidance, BlueScope writes in part, “The stronger outlook is driven by improved earnings expectations for North Star and the North America coated business due to better-than-expected realized steel prices and spreads in the United States. Expectations for BlueScope’s other businesses remain broadly consistent with outlook comments provided in February.”
As part of its growing presence in the U.S., BlueScope in December of last year completed the acquisition of the ferrous scrap processing assets of Indiana-based MetalX.