Nucor Steel expansion (copy)

While Nucor Steel is in the midst of a $180 million expansion of its manufacturing operations, another $40 million has been earmarked for additional upgrades to its Bourbonnais plant.

BOURBONNAIS — Nucor Steel Kankakee has not completed its $180-million plant expansion, but the company is investing an additional $40 million in the plant.

The majority of the investment focuses on upgrading machinery in the existing plant, most notably a state-of-the-art continuous casting machine.

The new continuous casting machine further will improve quality, broaden the mill’s product offerings and utilize the mill’s full-melt capacity, noted general manager Jon Witherow.

Continuous casting is described as a process where molten metal is solidified into a semi-finished billet or slab, which is subsequently rolled through the finishing mill.

“We are building on our efforts to modernize our steel mill in Kankakee to better compete in the global steel market and serve our customers,” Witherow said in a news release announcing the investment. “This is a great community in which to do business, and we are very excited to bring additional investment” to the county and state.

Nucor employs 350 people.

Tim Nugent, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, said the equipment upgrade only will continue to make Nucor an employer of choice here.

“We salute the company’s significant capital investment and commitment to providing high-skill jobs and competitive compensation in our market,” he said.

The $180-million expansion, started in late 2018, is expected to take two years to complete.

The expansion is for increased production of its merchant bar quality product. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company said the new mill will have the capacity to produce a half-million tons of steel annually.

Merchant bar products are steel products made to specific sizes requested by the buyer. This steel typically is used for flooring, roof joists, walkways, railings and concrete forms.

Nucor uses 100-percent-recycled steel scrap to manufacture its products.

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