Steel News

What’s the Key Challenge for Planned EAF Mills? Timing.

3/15/2019 - The new EAF mills that are being built in the southern U.S. will need to confront a few challenges related to raw materials procurement and workforce recruitment, according the president of the Steel Manufacturers Association.

Speaking during the 15th annual Platts Steel Markets North America conference, Steel Manufacturers Association president Philip K. Bell said that, for one, the mills that locate along the Gulf Coast will be competing against the petroleum and the petrochemical industries for workers.

Those industries offer well-paying jobs, he said, and are already enmeshed in the fabric of their communities. He added that competition for workers will be heightened by the broader lack of 21st century steelmakers, not only for operators to man the pulpits, but for experienced production supervisors, plant managers and other operations-related professionals.

Secondly, he said that the mills that wind up near each other, or close to existing mills, will likely find themselves in competition for regional scrap supplies, which could impact pricing.

Perhaps the biggest challenge, he said, will be to get the mills up and running while the winds are blowing in their favor. Right now, demand is healthy and beneficial trade policies are in place, but that could easily change, he said.

“Keep in mind that (the Section 232 tariffs are) an executive order, and that could go away with a tweet,” he said.