Third Highbar rebar mini mill a ‘strong possibility': Stickler

There is a “strong possibility” that a third electric-arc furnace (EAF) rebar mini mill with a 600,000 ton per year annual capacity will be built by Highbar LLC in the future, David Stickler, senior managing partner of Global Principal Partners, told Fastmarkets on Thursday February 9

Highbar is building a new rebar micro mill at a greenfield site near Osceola, Arkansas — the first of two planned 600,000 tpy rebar mini mills that Global Principal Partners had announced in June last year.

“Given the enthusiasm in the market for the Highbar project, coupled with the ever-increasing infrastructure spending on government-led transportation projects and the level of planned private sector reshoring spending, we are accelerating our growth efforts,” Stickler said on Thursday. “Highbar and its investors have come together to build a platform that goes well beyond our first mill to be located in northeast Arkansas.”

Equipment manufacturer SMS Group will supply the Arkansas mill and said on February 6 that it had placed “options on two additional mini mills” with Highbar.

Notably, the Highbar Arkansas rebar mill “will not compete with our customers by also fabricating the rebar we produce,” Stickler said. “We will let others do what they do best, which is fabricating and installing the rebar Highbar produces.”

Some market participants had expressed concerns about excess capacity in the domestic rebar industry when surveyed during the World of Concrete construction conference in Las Vegas in January.

“Nobody wants mill overcapacity,” a rebar consumer said, and a producer source also expressed concerns that additional rebar supply could depress prices.

Domestic mills have been discounting rebar prices over the past two weeks to keep moving tons amid uneven spot demand, with a rise in shredded scrap prices in February failing to prevent a rebar price decline.

Fastmarkets assessed steel reinforcing bar (rebar), fob mill US at $45 per hundredweight ($900 per short ton) on Wednesday February 8, unchanged after falling to this level a week prior.

The spread between shredded scrap and domestic rebar stands at $502.68 per short ton, with Fastmarkets assessing the steel scrap shredded auto scrap, consumer buying price, delivered mill Chicago at $445 per gross ton ($397.32 per short ton) on February 7, up by 7.23% from the January assessment of $415 per gross ton.

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