Liberty invests $25M in EAF at Georgetown mill
James Sanderson, United Steelworkers president at Liberty Steel Georgetown, Congressman Tom Rice and Vikrant Sharma, president of Liberty Steel USA
Liberty Steel USA

Liberty invests $25M in EAF at Georgetown mill

Company plans to create ‘world-class melt shop’ to boost output, secure long-term future of the mill.

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October 8, 2019

Liberty Steel USA, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s global London-based GFG Alliance, plans to invest up to $25 million to install a modern electric arc furnace (EAF) at its Georgetown, South Carolina, mill and extensively improve the infrastructure of the mill’s melt shop.

The major capital investment in its liquid steel production facilities at Georgetown will boost output substantially and secure the long-term future of the mill, the company says in a news release announcing the investment.

Liberty has already invested significantly to increase the versatility of its rolling mill at Georgetown in order to serve key markets for wire rod in the southeastern United States.

“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,” says Michael Setterdahl, chief executive officer of Liberty Steel USA.

He explains that the capability of the ageing liquid steel producing plant at Georgetown was running significantly behind the capabilities of the more modern rolling mill, so a major upgrade is needed to ensure the melt shop can make billets competitively for the rolling mill to achieve its potential.

The company aims to increase wire rod output from the site to more than 400,000 tons per year to serve customers across the region in sectors, including automotive and construction product manufacture, but in order to do so it needs to upgrade the melt shop to supply competitive high-quality billets, the company says.

Buttrio, Italy-based engineering firm Danieli Group has conducted extensive surveys at the site over the past few weeks in preparation for the project, which is expected to include Danieli’s new energy-efficient Q-One technology.

“This is an exciting project that will transform the capability of this pivotal mill and we’re delighted to be working with Liberty to bring it about,” says Paolo Losso, president of Pittsburgh-based Danieli Corp., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Danieli Group. “We expect to finalize design work very shortly.”

Work to install the new EAF and upgrade melting and casting facilities is expected to take between six and nine months once permits are obtained, during which time Georgetown will roll billets sourced externally, including billets from its sister plant in Peoria, Illinois.

In addition to the installation of a new EAF, the investment project will include new electrical systems, improvements to water and natural gas supply and ancillary equipment to support improved melt shop operations, along with environmental permits for modifications to regulated processes. In addition, substantial structural upgrades, including strengthened foundations, will be required.

Liberty has forged a constructive relationship with the Georgetown government and the union, which share a vision of continued success and development for the mill and Georgetown.

“Our members at Liberty are very encouraged by the news that there is going to be a big investment in the melt shop,” remarks James Sanderson, United Steelworkers president at Liberty Steel Georgetown. “Since the mill reopened last year, they’ve worked hard to give it a successful future and their efforts have given Liberty the confidence to make this important long-term commitment to Georgetown.”

Liberty acquired the Georgetown mill from ArcelorMittal, Luxembourg, December 2017 and reopened the site seven months later.