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June 29, 2021

Photo courtesy of Wieland North America

Wieland to expand copper recycling capacity in North America

Wieland North America, a division of Germany-based Wieland Group, has announced that it will open a new copper alloy recycling and refining facility in Shelbyville, Kentucky. The company is investing $100 million in the new site, which will serve as a hub for closed-loop recycling and as a refining center for third-party scrap, Wieland says.

Earlier this year, Wieland North America said it would establish its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, investing $8.8 million and creating 75 full-time jobs.

Wieland says it expects operations in Shelbyville to begin in late 2022.

The company says the site, which will employ approximately 75 people, will use the latest and most efficient technology to recycle a broad range of metals and alloys. Matt Bedingfield, Wieland North America’s president of recycling, says the 81-acre site will be able to produce approximately 225 million pounds, which is in excess of 100,000 tons, of copper annually with room for expansion.

“The current plan is to install fire-refining capability in addition to shredding, sorting and other processes to upgrade scrap for use in Wieland foundry operations and for the market at large,” he explains. “The site will allow Wieland the space to evaluate expansion opportunities as they present themselves, and Wieland is committed to growing in the recycling space where it makes sense.”

The Shelbyville plant will produce high-quality ingot for Wieland’s use and for external sales in addition to upgraded scrap units that the company will consume internally or sell, he says.

Bedingfield also thanked the state of Kentucky and Shelby County, saying, “The given incentives solidified our decision to proceed with this foundational investment, which will pave the way for further growth in recycling here. We look forward to working alongside our current and future suppliers to find new ways to create value together.”

He says the announcement is good news for Wieland’s suppliers. “This project firmly cements Wieland as a customer for many years to come and signals that we plan to grow as a consumer of scrap. Some relationships may need to evolve in terms of what we buy and how we create value, but we are very eager to engage in conversations with all suppliers about how we can work together going forward.”

In a May post to its website, the board chairman of Wieland Group says the firm’s plans involve “minimizing the need for virgin metals [and to] continuously invest in recycling technology.” The company owns several metals production sites in the United States, including those of the former Olin Brass, Chase Brass and A.J. Oster.

Steel mill capacity rate crosses 80 percent

The steel industry in the U.S. operated at 81.4 percent of capacity the week ending May 29, marking the first time since COVID-19 began that mills have operated at more than 80 percent of capacity.

According to the Washington-based American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI), the 1.84 million tons of U.S. raw steel production in the week before Memorial Day represented a 2.4 percent jump in output from the prior week, when mills operated at 79 percent of capacity.

The figures from May of this year far surpass the comparatively dormant circumstances of May 2020. The week ending May 29, 2020, mills produced just 1.22 million tons of steel, or 50.1 percent less than this year’s weekly total. That week in 2020, mills operated at just 54.6 percent of capacity.

Steel production for the first five months of this year in the United States has amounted to 35.9 million tons, which is up by 9.5 percent from the first five months of 2020, when just 32.8 million tons of steel were produced.

Throughout 2021, steel prices have been rising globally, as has demand for ferrous scrap, contributing to healthy earnings reports from steelmakers and scrap processors. Panelists at the Bureau of International Recycling Ferrous Division meeting May 31 discussed the possibility of additional scrap demand from China adding to the upward price momentum of ferrous scrap.

CMC receives air permit for Arizona micromill

© Andrey / stock.adobe.com

Commercial Metals Co. (CMC), headquartered in Irving, Texas, has announced that Arizona’s Maricopa County Air Quality Department has granted it an operating air permit so the company can begin construction of its new electric arc furnace (EAF) micromill in Mesa, Arizona. CMC says this will be its second EAF micromill in Mesa and its third EAF micromill overall.

“Receiving the air permit is an important milestone in our latest micromill project, which we have named Arizona 2,” says Tracy Porter, executive vice president and chief operating officer at CMC. “With the permit in hand, we can now begin construction in preparation for installation of the mill equipment, which we ordered last year. We still anticipate commissioning to occur during the spring of 2023.”

The Arizona 2 micromill will be the first micromill in the world to produce merchant bar and rebar, CMC states in a news release on the project. Porter says it will use environmentally friendly steelmaking technology.

“The plant’s capability to directly connect to an on-site renewable energy source, a first in North America, will further enhance the low emissions and highly efficient energy consumption of the micromill process,” he says.

Mesa’s mayor has expressed support for CMC’s new micromill. “Mesa prioritizes decision-making that supports a sustainable future for our environment, and we are pleased to see CMC is setting the standard for environmentally friendly steelmaking,” says Mesa Mayor John Giles. “We are proud to have a long-standing partnership with CMC in Mesa and look forward to their continued success as leaders in their industry.”

Speira CEO Einar Glomnes

Norsk Hydro aluminum rolling business sold, renamed

Belgium-based Norsk Hydro ASA has announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its rolling business to U.S.-based KPS Capital Partners. Under KPS ownership, the business is a stand-alone company called Speira.

Speira will manufacture advanced rolled aluminum products and will operate seven manufacturing facilities and a research and development center across Germany and Norway.

According to a news release issued by KPS, the acquisition includes Norsk Hydro’s business Alunorf, an aluminum rolling mill, as well as Grevenbroich, an aluminum finishing mill, both of which are in Germany. Speira employs nearly 5,000 people mainly in Germany and Norway.

Einar Glomnes, who led Hydro’s rolling business as executive vice president, has been appointed the CEO of Speira.

“I am very pleased about this milestone and the beginning of this new chapter for our company,” Glomnes says. “We have an exciting transformation journey ahead and the clear ambition to be a highly profitable, leading player and the industry benchmark in sustainability. We have everything we need to achieve our ambitions. We have the assets, and we have the best people. We will use our best-in-class rolling and recycling capabilities to serve our customers with high-quality low-carbon products and solutions.”

“We intend to transform Speira into the world’s leading aluminum company,” says Michael Psaros, co-founder and co-managing partner of KPS. “The size and global scale of Speira, the quality of its assets, coupled with the breadth of its products and the technology and manufacturing capabilities of its people, form the foundation of a tremendous investment platform. The company will focus on sustainability, innovation and new product development. We look forward to working together with Speira’s strong leadership team to create value and drive the company’s profitability and sustainability ambitions.”