Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. has announced what it calls an exploratory site selection process to build a new electric arc furnace (EAF) flat-rolled steel minimill in the U.S.
The company’s board of directors has authorized the process to find the best location for two electric arc furnaces plus “finishing technology” for a mill that will have 3 million tons of annual capacity. U.S. Steel says the site could contain “purchased equipment already owned by the company.”
The continued adoption of minimill technology will expand the company’s ability to produce “the next generation of highly profitable proprietary sustainable steel solutions, including advanced high strength steels,” the firm says.
Potential locations include both states in which the company has existing EAF operations (in Alabama and Big River Steel in Arkansas) as well as greenfield sites. U.S. steel says the investment is expected to be funded primarily from existing cash and expected free cash flow. The final investment requirement is subject to ultimate site selection and scope of value-added downstream finishing assets.
“Our customers are looking for like-minded partners to continue marching towards a sustainable future,” says U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt. “We already own and operate the most advanced and sustainable mini mill in the United States. Now we plan to expand this competitive advantage by continuing to combine our research and development and product innovation, deep customer relationships, and low-cost iron ore with additional minimill steelmaking technology to create long-term value for our investors. Our goal is to build capability to get better, not bigger. By accelerating our transition to more efficient minimill steelmaking, we expect to continue differentiating ourselves versus less efficient capacity while improving our through-cycle profitability and lowering our capital and carbon intensity.”
Although Burritt refers to iron ore, EAFs most commonly melt ferrous scrap and semiprocessed iron ore products such as direct-reduced iron (DRI) and hot briquetted iron (HBI).
The planned investment is being touted by the company as a step toward achieving its 2030 goal of reducing its global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 20 percent, compared to a 2018 baseline. “Additional minimill steelmaking will also create a platform to expand U. S. Steel’s verdeX sustainable product line, delivering differentiated steels made with significantly lower GHG emissions than the traditional integrated steelmaking process,” according to the company.U.S. Steel says the final site selection and other construction terms are subject to factors that include state and local support and final approval by the company’s board of directors. Construction could begin in the first half of 2022 with “production currently expected to begin in 2024,” U.S. Steel says.