Sweet Home, Alabama: ThyssenKrupp opens steel manufacturing facility
Following a three-year construction period, the new steelmaking and processing plant of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA and ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA in the southeastern USA was officially opened today. “With the startup of the plant in Alabama and the launch of the steel mill in Brazil in the summer, ThyssenKrupp is entering a new dimension of its history,” said Dr. Ekkehard Schulz, Chief Executive Officer of ThyssenKrupp AG, at the opening ceremony in Calvert. “These two projects are the cornerstones of our transatlantic growth strategy: We plan to achieve profitable growth in international markets of the future. That’s why the investments in our plants in the USA and Brazil are true investments in the future,” he continued at the event, which was attended by 3,000 employees, customers and guests from government and industry and featured a performance by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The construction of the steelmaking and processing plant in Alabama is one of the biggest ever foreign investments in the USA. ThyssenKrupp has invested $5 billion in the overall complex, $3.6 billion for the carbon flat steel facilities and 1.4 billion for the stainless area. The Calvert plant will eventually have 2,700 permanent employees. Many times that number of jobs will be created indirectly.
“Our processing facilities here in Alabama are of the highest international standard and set a benchmark for steel production sites in the USA,” said Dr. Schulz in his speech.
From the new location in Alabama, ThyssenKrupp Steel USA and ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA intend to strengthen their competitive position in North America. The carbon flat steel market in the NAFTA region has a large, steadily growing premium segment. ThyssenKrupp wants to tap more into this market – with customers in the service center, automotive, construction, appliance and tube sectors – and increase its market share to over five%. Stainless steel flat products from ThyssenKrupp are already marketed in the NAFTA region through sales companies. The current market share is more than 15%. This too is expected to increase significantly through ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA. “We are confident we will succeed: ThyssenKrupp enjoys a strong reputation the world over and is known for the quality of its products,” said Dr. Schulz. “Customers in the USA are waiting for us.”
The decision to build a greenfield plant in the USA was made in May 2007. The Calvert location in Mobile County was chosen for its excellent logistics with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico for the supply of starting materials from Brazil. Further advantages included short distances to customers in the industrial centers of the southern USA, Mexico and Canada, the availability of employees and the broad support of government and industry associations in Alabama.
The groundbreaking ceremony on the 14 square kilometer site took place on November 2, 2007. During the construction phase up to 30,000 people were working on the site at the same time. For the foundations, around 8.5 million cubic meters of earth was moved, roughly 75,000 piles were sunk and more than 750,000 cubic meters of concrete cast. The total covered area is approximately 630,000 square meters. The amount of steel used in the construction of the plant would be enough to build ten Eiffel Towers.
For the production of carbon flat steel, the plant will be supplied with three million metric tons of slabs per year from Brazil. These will be shipped to the Port of Mobile, which has been specially expanded for this purpose, and from there along the Tombigbee River to the plant’s own river terminal. The central element of the plant is a wide hot strip mill with a capacity of over five million metric tons per year. The first coil was produced here in July. The cold rolling mill started operation in September. The coating lines of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA will be completed step-by-step. The first cold-rolled products have already been shipped to customers.
In the future the hot strip mill will also be used by ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA. Stainless operations got underway in September 2010 with one cold rolling mill and an annual capacity of around 100,000 tons. Further units such as the hot-rolled annealing and pickling line, which is scheduled to start production in fall 2011, are currently at the planning stage or under construction. A second, 72 inch cold rolling mill is scheduled to come on stream around the same time. Starting material for ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA is currently being supplied from the Group’s European plants. In the future the stainless steel slabs will be produced in an on-site melt shop in Calvert. Construction work is now starting. Part of the stainless hot-rolled produced there will later be supplied to ThyssenKrupp Mexinox in San Luis Potosí (Mexico). Startup of the electric-arc furnace melt shop is planned for December 2012. It will have an annual capacity of up to 1 million metric tons.
In building and operating the equipment in Calvert, the companies are meeting and exceeding strict American and European environmental standards. ThyssenKrupp Steel USA and ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA use extensive energy recovery and recycling technologies, including an innovative water treatment plant. ThyssenKrupp is also investing in employee training, for example through the Erich Heine Learning Center. As at all its locations around the world, ThyssenKrupp is demonstrating its credentials as a good corporate citizen in Alabama, promoting education and social projects in the region and developing partnerships with organizations, schools and universities.
“The American South is an engine of growth for our entire country, and the new ThyssenKrupp plant in Alabama helps secure that economic leadership position for this region,” said Alabama’s Governor Bob Riley at the opening ceremony. “This enormous investment in our state provides new opportunities for even more growth, gives employees and their families good jobs, and makes Alabama and the entire region more competitive,” he continued. “Realizing the three projects – USA, Brazil and the construction of our new headquarters in Germany – all at the same time was a mammoth task. But we managed it,” said Dr. Schulz. “We have arrived here, or to put it another way: ‘Steel Home Alabama’ or even better ‘ThyssenKrupp Home Alabama’.”