South Carolina EAF mill’s future appears uncertain

United Kingdom-based Liberty hints former Georgetown Steel equipment upgrade still on hold.

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August 21, 2020

Comments made to a South Carolina newspaper indicate the green light for upgrades at the Liberty Steel Georgetown electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mill seem to have turned yellow.

An online article by the Post and Courier, based in Charleston, South Carolina, includes an update from Andrew Mitchell, a spokesperson for United Kingdom-based GFG Alliance, parent company of Liberty Steel Georgetown. Mitchell says GFG is still “exploring all the capital, market, supply and cost considerations that could support any sustainable restart plan.”

According to the newspaper, GFG is no longer offering a timetable on the mill melt shop’s restart.

Liberty and GFG Alliance purchased the South Carolina complex—idled at the time—from ArcelorMittal in 2017. The mill was constructed by former German steelmaker Korf Industries as Georgetown Steel Mill in 1969.

In October 2019, the company indicated it planned to invest $25 million to upgrade the EAF portion of the mill. “We have a very efficient rolling mill at Georgetown and we now want to put a world-class melt shop behind it so we can achieve our goal to become the leading supplier of wire rod to the region and secure the long-term future of the site,” Michael Setterdahl, CEO of Liberty Steel USA, said at the time.

A few months later, the Post and Courier was reporting that Liberty and a Cleveland-based supplier of equipment to help with the upgrade had filed lawsuits against each other. By that time, melt shop workers had been redeployed to rolling mill areas of the complex, according to the newspaper.