Minnesota Steel revises plant plans
IRON RANGE:The first steelmaking plant on the Range will produce slabs rather than coils.
The first Iron Range steelmaking plant will manufacture a niche product not produced elsewhere in the United States, according to a revised plan.
Minnesota Steel would produce steel slabs rather than hot-rolled coil, as first proposed, said John Elmore, Minnesota Steel president and chief executive officer.
Steel slabs are further processed into flat-rolled steel, which is used in finished products.
Producing steel slabs rather than coil would reduce the project’s capital cost, shorten a learning curve in operating the plant and take advantage of strong market demand for slabs, Elmore said. And Minnesota Steel would be able to supply a niche market, currently only served by foreign steel slab mills.
“It does make sense,” said Peter Kakela, a Michigan State University industry analyst, because slabs are more versatile. “They could sell them to a number of steel companies to make the finished product.”
In 2007, foreign steel slab producers are expected to export about 7 million tons into the United States, Elmore said.
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Continuous casting had largely replaced traditional slab production. The main advantage of continuous casting is the avoidance of the extra costs involved in re-heating slabs prior to the hot rolling stage. The downside of this is that whilst it facilitates lower overall production costs, it requires that full casts are rolled immediately to the final gauge “sacrificing” fexibility. Producers who work from slab stocks are invariably able to offer steel strip on shorter lead times and be much more flexible in terms of quantities and size.
More can be found on intermediary steel making production at steeluniversity.org