Big River Steel CEO Dave Stickler said Friday (March 18) the first phase of a $1.3 billion steel mill in Mississippi County has been completed with a productive future ahead of the company.
Big River Steel successfully began processing steel this week with the commissioning of its batch anneal furnaces and skin pass mill. This is the first step in a phased start-up for bringing equipment on line that will last throughout the year at the company’s Flex Mill, a $1.3-billion steel mill located about 40 miles north of Memphis.
When fully operational, the Flex Mill is expected to produce 1.6 million tons of the niche and specialty steels currently under-supplied and much in demand in the North American market.
“The successful start-up of two of our operating units, less than twenty months after forming our company and breaking ground on our project, is yet another significant accomplishment for Big River Steel and our employees,” Stickler said. “Working closely with our technology partner. SMS Group, we look forward to producing a full complement of high-quality, value-added steels in an environmentally friendly and energy efficient manner.”
The project also drew support from the state’s top economic development official.
“A project like this is years in the making,” said Mike Preston, executive director for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “It starts with a vision and that vision was from John Correnti. It is so rewarding to see that vision becoming a reality, especially as it brings high-paying jobs to Arkansas.”
The batch anneal operation and skin pass mill are part of Big River Steel’s finishing mill where steel undergoes intense processing to meet customers’ final demands. The entirety of the steelmaking technology being installed is unique within the industry and the finishing mill area is but one of the components that differentiates the Flex Mill from other steel producers in North America, company officials said.
Big River is in the process of hiring 425 employees it will need to run its operations, with those positions having an average annual compensation of more than $75,000, company officials said.