VACHERIE — Two major milestones have been met in the construction of Nucor Corp.’s direct-reduced iron plant in Convent, and the steel corporation is set to begin hiring next week for the second phase of its proposed $3.4 billion steel facility.
Les Hart, Nucor Steel Louisiana general manager, shared these developments with the St. James Parish Council on Wednesday during a presentation on economic development in the parish.
Officials repeated the information Thursday during an earnings report conference call with financial analysts.
“We’ve reached a couple major milestones in construction work,” Hart told the St. James Parish Council.
In the past week or so, storage domes have been inflated on the site to hold iron ore, Hart said. The domes are still undergoing internal construction, he said.
The second milestone is the arrival of a furnace vessel, made in Texas and shipped to the construction site via the Mississippi River, Hart said. The team set up and completed the structure in just seven days, he said.
This $750 million first construction phase is expected to bring in 150 jobs by the end of 2012, the company has said.
The full, five-phase steel facility, on 4,000 acres of the parish’s east bank, will produce 1,250 permanent jobs, according to Nucor Corp.
Other stages of the project call for a second direct-reduced iron plant, a pellet plant and a blast furnace. The final stage calls for a $750 million steel mill.
Currently, there are 644 contractors on-site, with more than 30 percent of them local hires, Hart said.
Nucor is ending its first round of employee-training and will start hiring Monday for the facility’s second phase of construction. This second round of hiring will bring the total number of employees for the first phase to 150, Hart said. Applicants can go to http://www.nucorjobslouisiana.com, he said.
Hart said the facility is still looking to start up in mid-2013.
St. James President Timmy Roussel asked Hart if the sale of ThyssenKrupp’s struggling steel mill in Calvert, Ala., could affect the marketplace or Nucor’s business in the parish.
Hart said Nucor is one of the companies looking at the ThyssenKrupp-owned steel mill, but said what happens in Alabama is outside of plans for Louisiana.
“Nucor is one the companies that’s interested, and there are many companies looking at TK,” Hart said. “Nucor is one of those. However, the decisions that we make are made to enhance ourselves and our existing operations so we can better serve our company and communities where we live and work,” Hart said.
In a conference call with financial analysts and reporters Thursday, CEO Dan DiMicco said it was “a free look” to Nucor to check out the Alabama steel mill and “see what we can make out of it.”
DiMicco said he expected most steel companies will study the possibility of buying the facility, since binding bids aren’t being taken yet.
“Everybody wants to know what they will be up against in the future,” he said.
Advocate business writers Timothy Boone and Ted Griggs contributed to this report.