Schnitzer Restarts Cascade, Buys Columbus Recycling

Written by Michael Cowden

Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. has resumed production at its Cascade Steel Rolling Mills in McMinnville, Ore., following a fire in late May that damaged the facility’s melt shop.

The Portland, Ore.-based recycler, which also owns the Oregon mill, said the facility was accepting orders after restarting operations several weeks earlier than expected.

“I am proud of our team’s exceptional efforts to bring the mill back into production ahead of schedule,” Schnitzer Chairman and CEO Tamara Lundgren said in a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Initial expectations were that Cascade might not resume operations until late August or early September.

Cascade, an electric arc furnace (EAF) mill, makes rebar, coiled rebar, hot-rolled bar and wire rod. It is among the relatively few melt shops in the western U.S. and western Canada.

Schnitzer expects that Cascade will make a “limited number” of sales before the company’s fiscal year closes at the end of August.

Separately, Schnitzer announced that it has agreed to buy Columbus Recycling and its eight operating facilities across the Southeast – notably in Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. The deal for the ferrous and nonferrous scrap recycler is expected to close during the first quarter of Schnitzer’s 2022 fiscal year – or September-November 2021 in terms of the calendar year – subject to regulatory approvals.

Columbus Recycling buys and processes scrap from industrial manufacturers, from smaller local scrap companies as well as from individual collectors. It then processes and resells that material to foundries and steel mills in the region.

Schnitzer expects the acquisition of Columbus – which sold approximately 300,000 tons of ferrous scrap in the 12 months ended May 2021 – to complement its nine existing facilities in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

And an expanded footprint in the Southeast makes sense given the big increase in EAF steelmaking that the region is expected to see in the years ahead.

Just a few examples: Nucor is expanding its EAF flat-rolled steel mill in Ghent, Ky., and building a new EAF plate mill in Brandenburg, Ky. AM/NS Calvert, meanwhile, is adding a new EAF to its operations in Alabama, according to SMU’s new flat-rolled steel capacity table.

The deal also has a compelling logic when it comes to decarbonization efforts.

“While a variety of solutions will be required as industries, communities, and governments actively pursue carbon reduction, the increased use of recycled metals is one path that is immediately achievable,” Lundgren said.

By Michael Cowden,

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