The heavy rains in the first two months of the year have pushed back the start-up date for Nucor Corp.’s 2.5 million-ton direct reduced iron plant in St. James Parish, the company announced Thursday.

In its first-quarter earnings report, Nucor said because of “extreme weather conditions” the plant is expected to begin operating in the third quarter of 2013. The company had planned to begin running the plant around the middle of the year.

The reduced iron plant’s projected cost is $750 million. It is the first of several planned phases in a proposed $3.4 billion steel complex that would ultimately employ 1,250 people and produce millions of tons of steel each year.