Steel Times International Issue
November/December 2020

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November/December 2020

Front cover photo (right) shows the start-up of John Cockerill’s highly innovative hot-dip zinc coating process that is to allow one of Europe’s biggest steelmakers to produce premium quality strip, while reducing its zinc consumption.


That the electric arc furnace will play a major role in the future of global steel production is a given, despite the fact that, in the past, it was always considered inferior to its bigger brother the integrated mill. It was always argued that minimills were alright up to a point, but when it came to the production of superior steels for use by the automotive sector, well, that’s the territory of the big blast furnace-based operators. In fact, if you go right back to the very early days of Nucor Corporation in the USA, those who supported the superiority of the integrated mill often put forward the notion that minimills were fine for the production of trash can steel, but little else.

And we all know what happened next: minimills stepped up to the plate, they improved technologically and in many ways have yet to reach their zenith. We’ve all heard of Big River Steel in Osceola, Arkansas, USA, and how it represents a new generation of minimill, exploiting ultra-high-tech and heavily reliant upon Industry 4.0 technology, such as machine learning and AI. In fact, Big River Steel’s CEO, Dave Stickler, will be making a keynote presentation at next month’s virtual Future Steel Forum 2020, to be held 8-9 December (for details of the programme and how to register, visit https://www.futuresteelforum.com).

There are, of course, other EAF operators making just as big a name for themselves.Steel Dynamics Inc’s 3Mt/yr greenfield flat-roll mill in Sinton, Texas – which should be up and running by the middle of 2021– is another groundbreaker as it will not only produce unexposed automotive steels, but might well be the first EAF facility in the world to produce exposed autosheet.

Integrated mills want a piece of the action. Of course they do; and with everybody looking closely at environmental issues and the fact that electric steelmaking is by far the greener production option, traditional steelmakers have realised that the future is most definitely electric. US Steel, for example, is moving towards a ‘best of both’ worlds scenario, having acquired a 49.9% share in Big River Steel and having the option to buy the lot before October 2023.

You can read all about minimills in Myra Pinkham’s article in this issue, and in Manik Mehta’s excellent coverage of the virtual Steel Success Strategies conference.

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2 Leader by Matthew Moggridge, Editor of Steel Times International

4 News round-up

8 Innovations

23 Latin America update

26 Conference report: Steel Success Strategies 2020

33 Minimills by Myra Pinkham

37 Electric steelmaking – electromagnetic stirring

41 Electric steelmaking – measuring and assessing the EAF electrical system

47 Handling – conveyor belt health monitoring

51 Workforce – Liberty Steel champions female engineers

54 Perspectives – Andrea Tonini, CEO BM Group Polytec

56 History