Big River Steel said Friday that it has commissioned its first steel-processing machinery, the first step in a phased start-up of the $1.3 billion plant near Osceola.
“The successful start-up of two of our operating units, less than 20 months after forming our company and breaking ground on our project, is yet another significant accomplishment for Big River Steel and our employees,” Dave Stickler, Big River Steel’s CEO, said in a news release. “Working closely with our technology partner, SMS Group, we look forward to producing a full complement of high-quality, value-added steels in an environmentally friendly and energy efficient manner.”
The plant, which broke ground Sept. 22, 2014, aims to produce 1.6 million tons of niche and specialty steel for sale in North America.
On Friday, the company said it commissioned its batch anneal furnaces and skin pass mill, and in doing so processed its first batch of steel. The machinery is part of Big River Steel’s finishing mill, which processes steel according to customer demands.
The plant is currently working to hire 425 employees at an average annual compensation of more than $75,000.
In 2013, the Arkansas Legislature approved a multimillion-dollar package of incentives for the plant, including a $125 million bond issue under Amendment 82 of the Arkansas Constitution — the first time the “superproject” legislation was implemented.
In 2014, Arkansas Teacher Retirement System trustees authorized investing up to $125 million in Big River Steel. Koch Minerals, a subsidiary of Koch Industries of Wichita, Kansas, was an early — and major — investor in Big River Steel.