Highbar LLC, a newly formed company focused on sustainable scrap metal recycling and steel production, announced Tuesday (Nov. 1) it has selected a greenfield site in Northeast Arkansas to build the first of two rebar steel mini mills.
The $500 million Highbar mill will sit on over 600 acres of property just outside of the town of Osceola. The project will include space for an expanded Mississippi River port facility, a direct Class 1 railroad connection, and a planned adjacent solar installation.
“My team and I have had great success investing billions of dollars in Northeast Arkansas over the past eight years. I am pleased that after conducting a multi-state site search that we are able to make this announcement today,” said Dave Stickler, chief executive officer of Highbar and senior managing partner of Global Principal Partners. Stickler led Big River Steel for several years.
“Arkansas is a great place to conduct business, especially steel business,” Stickler added.
The Highbar project is expected to create 200 direct and indirect jobs, with the direct jobs paying $140,000 a year on average plus benefits and the indirect jobs paying $60,000 a year on average plus benefits. During the planned 22-month construction period, peak construction employment is expected to exceed 600 jobs.
The mills are designed to be world leaders in terms of energy and water efficiency, labor productivity, and carbon emission reductions. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in the second quarter of 2023 once final permits are in place and equipment deliveries begin.
The company disclosed that it has already pre-sold under long-term agreements 20% of its expected output.
“The addition of Highbar’s first rebar mill in Arkansas will not only support the growing steel industry in northeast Arkansas, but it will further diversify our economy and provide hundreds of high-wage jobs to deserving families,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “I’m excited about the opportunities this significant investment will bring to the region.”
“Arkansas continues the momentum to become a national leader in the steel industry,” Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said. “Companies like Highbar are looking for locations where they can find a qualified workforce and low business costs while being able to get products to customers quickly and efficiently. Arkansas checks all of the boxes, and companies are taking note. I am confident we will continue to see many such investments in the future.”
Mississippi County, home to Nucor and Big River Steel, which is owned by U.S. Steel, is the largest steel producing county in the U.S. Billions of dollars of infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs in the region rely on the steel industry.
There are more than 20 steel-related businesses in the county employing more than 3,600 workers. That’s about 1 in every 5 jobs in the county.
U.S. Steel announced earlier this year it intends to build a $3 billion companion steel mill near the BRS mill. It will create 900 jobs with an average pay over $100,000 annually. It is the largest capital investment project in Arkansas history.
Nucor Steel has three mills in Mississippi County.