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COVER


STORY


Super project spu Mississippi County sees benefits of B


Story by Michael Dougherty For County Lines


Photos courtesy of Big River Steel


Big River Steel, a massive steel complex that when finished next year will stand as the single largest private investment in the state’s history.


A B


Te $1.3 billion steel mill and recycling facility also is expected to bring an economic boon to Mississippi County, which has a rich agricultural history. “We’ve been told to expect that the number of permanent jobs should rise from 525 to 1,100 after Phase II [of the steel mill] is completed,” said Mississippi County Judge Randy L. Carney. “So that has to have an enormous positive effect in our county. Our tax base will raise by 17 percent after the permanent jobs are filled.” Tose projections provide hope to area leaders and residents who have in recent years seen the closure of a U.S. Air Force Base and several manufacturing facilities.


ig River Steel’s flat-rolled flex mill — the first in the nation — was the dream of John Correnti, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer before he died suddenly Aug. 18 on a business trip


dozen or so high-lift cranes hoist steel beams and concrete blocks into place in what used to be a soybean field near Osceola in northeast Arkansas. All of these pieces are coming together to create


to Chicago. Ground was broken on the 1,300-acre site in September 2014. Completion is expected some time in 2016. Company officials, now led by new CEO Dave Stickler, say the state-of- the-art flex mill combines the best aspects of old and new, “a merging of the wide product mix and superior grade capabili- ties of an integrated mill with the nimbleness and technologi- cal advancements of a mini-mill.” It also will be the cleanest, most efficiently produced steel in the world, they said. One example of the efficiency is the hydraulic power roof system in the electric arc furnace, which the officials say will cut down on the amount of heat that escapes, thus reducing energy consumption. “Steel-making equipment, like all technology, evolves,” said BRS Chief Commercial Officer Mark Bula. “What was cutting-edge 20 years ago, today is naturally not as advanced as the newest steel mills being built around the world. “Big River is the newest in the world. It is the widest of any compact strip production [CPS] facility in the world. It can produce the thickest hot bands of any mini-mill in North America. And probably most significant is our ability to make the cleanest and most demanding grades of steel because Big River Steel is the only EAF [electric arc furnace] and com- pact strip production mill in North America to install an RH [Ruhrstahl Heraeus] degasser. He explained the degasser as a way to clean up the product made from the scrap steel that goes in on the front end. “Tink of this as the process that mixes the steel to remove impurities,” Bula said. “RH degassers are more typical in inte-


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