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Acerinox To Boost North American Stainless Capacity

Acerinox to boost North American Stainless capacity

Acerinox to boost North American Stainless capacity

The North American Stainless mill in Kentucky, already the largest such plant in America, will undergo an expansion if Spain-based Acerinox follows through on a recent announcement. Spain-based metals producer Acerinox has announced it intends to increase production capacity at its North American Stainless (NAS) mill in Ghent, Kentucky, by 200,000 metric tons per year, representing what it calls a 20 percent boost in capacity. The mill is one of the largest consumers of stainless steel scrap in North America. A statement posted to the NAS website says the its melt shop products contained an average of 82 percent recycled content in 2021. Considering an acknowledged melt shop capacity of 1 million metric tons, that means the facility could absorb some 800,000 metric tons of scrap annually in a high-volume year. Regarding the planned expansion, NAS puts the price tag at $244 million and says it will include a new cold rolling mill, an upgrade to its annealing and pickling lines, and enlarging the melt shop to include a 400 metric ton crane, “among other equipment.” “This is a strategic decision with which Acerinox will increase its positioning in the United States to accompany the expected growth in the American market”, says Bernardo Velázquez, CEO of Acerinox. Velázquez says the decision “reinforces our leadership in the American market and our commitment to this factory, one of the most efficient in the world. We are proud to produce in NAS about 50 percent of the country’s stainless steel.” Acerinox and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced the investment at a joint press conference in late January. Said Governor Beshear, “I am pleased to announce further growth in Kentucky’s steel industry with this latest investment by North American Stainless. I look forward to strengthening this collaboration in the years ahead.” Remarked NAS CEO Cristobal Fuentes, “We are proud to spearhead the stainless steel sector in the U.S., support national security of supply with our production and create quality jobs in our region.” In an Acerinox presentation to investors given last October, the company cited sustainability as a current opportunity, both in terms of its recycling or circular economy credentials and because of the role of stainless steel and stainless alloys in the natural gas and alternative energy sectors. In the same presentation, Acerinox referred to a “regionalization trend” in manufacturing, often referred to as reshoring, that it says “will attract more [stainless steel] purchases in local markets and will contribute to increasing stainless steel consumption. It is a unique opportunity to bring industry back to the United States and Europe.” The stainless steel scrap sector is already one of the most regional-based markets, with an industry analyst remarking in 2021 that just 11 percent of stainless steel scrap traveled from one continent to another in 2020, representing a much smaller percentage compared with copper-bearing or aluminum scrap.

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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