A US$750 million direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in St. James Parish, Mississippi, USA, might well be expanded by owner Nucor with four additional phases taking the total investment in the site to US$3.1 billion.

The plant began producing DRI late last year and, it is claimed, is already streets ahead of its competitors, according to Nucor Corporation's chairman and president, John Ferriola.

The plant is located 30 miles south of Baton Rouge and 60 miles from New Orleans and currently employs 140 full-time workers. A further 10 employees will be added this year.

DRI as a raw material used to make high-quality feedstock for steel production. Nucor imports iron ore from Brazil, Canada and Norway and produces 2.5Mt/yr of iron ore pellets. The pellets are transported to Nucor steel production sites around the USA and used in the manufacture of steel products.

Expansion of the facility at St James Parish will expand full-time employment at the plant considerably.

Future investment at the plant would involve a second DRI facility at a cost ofUS$400; a US$500 million pellet plant; and a US$1 billion blast furnace, not forgetting a US$750 million steel mill.

Ferriola has described the St James Parish plant as a milestone for Nucor and American manufacturing. He said it was a key part of the company's strategy to be more self-sufficient where raw materials were concerned and this in turn will enable the company to control costs and maintain global competitive advantage.

The State of Louisiana offered Nucor various incentives to develop the plant, including performance-based financial assistance to the tune of US$160 million over a six-year period – the proviso being that all five phases are started as scheduled in Nucor's agreement with the state.

Source: The Advocate