Company News

Big River Steel To Expand Osceola Flex Mill

Big River Steel officially announced on June 29 a $1.2 billion investment that will double capacity at its advanced barge-served steel mill and recycling facility in Osceola, Ark., at Lower Mississippi River Mile 785. The possible move had been discussed in steel industry publications for months.

The expansion will double Big River Steel’s hot-rolled steel production capacity to 3.3 million tons annually. In addition, the expansion will facilitate the company’s ability to produce even higher grades of electrical steel, demand for which is expected to increase with continued focus on energy efficiency and the increase in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.

“Our $1.2 billion expansion will further cement Big River Steel’s position as a global leader in terms of advanced manufacturing and environmental stewardship,” said Dave Stickler, Big River Steel’s CEO. “Announcing this investment less than 18 months after beginning operations is a testament to the hard work and great success of the men and women on our team.”

Engineering efforts are already underway with SMS group GmbH, the primary technology provider, and will continue throughout the summer months. Major construction activity will begin later this year and continue for approximately 24 months, the company said.

In addition to doubling its hot-rolled steel production and enhancing its electrical steel capability, Big River said it is also contemplating the installation of a next generation coating line focused on automotive applications. Such an installation may involve a steel industry partner.

Arkansas state officials touted the opportunity to bring additional high-paying jobs and incremental investments to northeast Arkansas.

“When Big River Steel chose Arkansas as the site of its new plant, it was the largest economic development project in the state’s history,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Our state’s pro-business climate has led to the company deciding to expand here. That means even more jobs and more investment in Arkansas.”

One of Big River Steel’s customers is The Material Works, a closely held family-owned company founded by Kenneth Voges that is a flat-rolled coil steel processor and a developer of patented processing technology. It is located on the Kaskaskia River in Illinois and does a significant amount of barged traffic with Big River Steel. In 2014, The Material Works invested $20 million to begin building an advanced flat-roll processing center adjacent to Big River Steel’s Osceola facility.