Steel Dynamics Inc. will build and operate a 650,000-metric-ton aluminum flat-rolled mill, plus two supporting satellite recycled aluminum slab centers. The mill will produce low-carbon aluminum from recycled material.
The company will own over 94 percent of the rolling mill facility through a joint venture arrangement with Unity Aluminum, Inc., whose employees provide significant aluminum industry operating expertise to the project, complementing the company’s own proven extensive construction and operating talent.
Steel Dynamics’ steel customers are significant consumers and processors of aluminum flat-rolled products, and also seek the company’s high-quality, sustainable, customer-centric approach within the aluminum flat-rolled market, the company claims. The aluminum flat-rolled mill will utilize a significant amount of aluminum scrap, and as such is also a complementary extension of the company’s metals recycling platform, which is the largest nonferrous metals recycler in North America.
The North American flat-rolled aluminum industry has a substantial and growing supply deficit estimated at over two million metric tons, based largely on increasing demand from the automotive and sustainable beverage can industries. The lack of aluminum flat-rolled availability has impacted automotive producers’ ability to secure supply. The supply deficit is currently being addressed through imports of higher-cost aluminum flat-rolled products, which exceeded 25 percent of North American consumption in 2021, the company said.
“We are incredibly excited to announce this meaningful growth opportunity, which is aligned with our existing business and operational expertise,” said Mark. D. Millett, chairman, president and CEO. “We have intentionally grown with our customers’ needs, providing efficient sustainable supply-chain solutions for the highest-quality products. Thus far, this has primarily been achieved within the carbon steel industry – however, a significant number of our carbon flat-rolled steel customers are also consumers and processors of aluminum flat-rolled products.”
The planned $1.9 billion aluminum flat rolled mill will be located in the Southeastern United States, with an annual production capacity of 650,000 metric tons of finished products, serving the sustainable beverage packaging, automotive and common alloy industrial sectors. The product offering will be supported by various value-added finishing lines, including continuous annealing solutions heat treating lines, continuous coating and various slitting and packaging operations.
The rolling mill is currently expected to begin operations in the first quarter 2025. The company’s focus on decarbonization will also be applied to this aluminum operation, including plans to use a significant amount of pre- and post-consumer aluminum scrap in its production process, supported by the company’s metals recycling platform, which is the largest nonferrous metals recycler in North America.
The capital investment is estimated at $2.2 billion for the three facilities. Commercial production is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2025.
At full capacity, the aluminum rolling mill will require approximately 900,000 metric tons of annual aluminum slab supply. The rolling mill is expected to have the capacity to supply approximately 50 percent of its recycled aluminum slab requirements onsite, with the remaining amount to be provided by the construction and operation of two additional satellite recycled aluminum slab centers, one to be located in the Southwestern United States and the other in North Central Mexico. The satellite slab centers will benefit from abundant regional aluminum scrap supply and cost-effective operations. The two facilities are expected to cost approximately $350 million in aggregate, with the Mexico facility expected to begin operations in 2024 and the U.S. facility by the end of 2025. The company will own 100 percent of the satellite facilities.
SDI’s joint venture partner, Unity Aluminum, is the name adopted in 2020 by the former Braidy Industries. In 2017, the company announced plans for a greenfield aluminum mill in Ashland, Ky. Construction has not yet begun at the site.