Steel Dynamics invests US$2.2B in aluminum mill project in Fort Wayne

US – Steel Dynamics, an American steel producer, is investing US$2.2 billion to build an aluminum mill in Fort Wayne nearby to its current steel-making operation to try and help alleviate the shortage of beverage cans in the market.

The investment will also be channeled to support two centers to process recycled aluminum.

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According to the company, when the new facility is complete, it will be able to churn out 650,000 tons of finished aluminum products per year.

Steel Dynamics intends to bridge the deficit in the automotive and beverage can industries that is crippling the local manufacturers in the US.

CEO Mark Millett to Inside Indiana Business said: “Aluminum sheet actually has been on our radar for many years.”

And the significant and growing North American supply deficit in aluminum flat roll makes this an ideal time to penetrate the market.”

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Millett added that the beverage can industry itself has undergone a major expansion and requires feedstock, forcing many beverage companies to import beverage cans to the US to keep up with demand.

Steel Dynamic detailed that it will offer the best alternative to importing cans which can be unsustainable and uneconomical for minimum orders from the local breweries.

Breweries in the US say beverage cans have jumped up from 5% to 10% in increments, which has resulted in increased prices on some canned beers by US$1 to US$2 on average.

The breweries noted that the shortage is due to the pandemic lockdowns that curtailed manufacturing, supplier upheavals, and a canned cocktail boom that increased demand for aluminum.

Dan Schwarz, Co-founder, and CEO of Lift Bridge Brewing Company said the can shortage is a lingering effect of the pandemic hence adopting the name “Candemic”.

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He added that increased demand, not just for canned beers but also for things like canned seltzers, soft drinks, and sparkling waters, has placed a strain on the aluminum supply chain.

The looming shortage has also triggered investments from other companies in these sector, that are trying to curb the possibilities of the deficit happening in the future.

In June, KJ Can USA, a subsidiary of the Korea-based KJ Co. Ltd built a new plant in Nashua to help address the problem of the shortage of aluminum cans.

The company said the new modern plant is well-positioned, both with its location and timing, to satisfy the aluminum needs of brewers throughout New England and the Northeast region.

KJ Cans USA also added that plans are already in the works to add additional capacity at the Nashua plant even after construction.

Meanwhile, forecasters in the aluminum can industry say the demand for cans is expected to continue for the next two to three years as more companies aim to provide more sustainable options for consumers.

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