Nucor Corp. said Wednesday that its direct reduced iron plant in St. James Parish will resume operations by the end of January, a target it had previously shared with parish officials.
The plant temporarily suspended production at the end of last year for planned maintenance, with a decision made not to resume production until market conditions improved. Nucor said changes in the raw materials market led to the decision to restart plant operations.
About 170 people work at the plant, according to Louisiana’s economic development department.
Meanwhile, Nucor has yet to disclose its final plans for future phases for the proposed steelmaking complex in Convent. Nucor had proposed a $3.4 billion megasite, employing 1,250 people, that would be built in phases. The state had promised the company $160 million in incentives if all phases were built. The company was supposed to share its final plans for the complex with Louisiana Economic Development by Dec. 31.
That hasn’t happened.
“Nucor has not communicated final plans to LED about its potential future phases in Louisiana,” the agency said. “Nucor and the state of Louisiana continue to maintain a positive dialogue about the company’s existing facilities and investment, as well as constructive discussions about potential future investment in Louisiana.”
Phase I is the direct reduced iron plant. Built at a cost of $750 million. Other pieces of the complex include a second DRI facility that would employ 100 people and cost $400 million; a $500 million pellet plant that would employ 200; a blast furnace and coke ovens that would cost $1 billion and employ 300 people; and a $750 million steel mill that would employ 500.
So far, Nucor has received a $30 million performance-based grant and $30 million in state-funded bond money, according to LED. The bond money/loan would have become a performance-based grant if Nucor moved forward on a second phase of the complex.
Without a final investment decision on an additional phase by Dec. 31, Nucor will continue to repay the $30 million loan, according to LED. The state and company obligations for future phases will not be in force.
LED’s statement says “the state will continue to engage Nucor in discussions, with a goal of adding economic value for all parties.”
It’s unclear whether Nucor will continue with its plans for the St. James megasite.
The company’s most recent quarterly earnings report included $84.1 million, mainly on engineering designs “related to the anticipated further development activities” at the St. James site.
However, Nucor also said changes to the planned developments could result in full or partial impairment of these capitalized assets.