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ThyssenKrupp plant in Calvert processes first coil of steel

It is reported that ThyssenKrupp AG's carbon steel unit has rolled the first coil of steel in Calvert, a significant milestone in the path to full operation for the USD 5 billion complex.

The coil was rolled late on July 31st 2010 at the end of a two day push, but leaders of Germany's largest steelmaker didn't acknowledge it until Friday, when the company released its quarterly earnings report.

Mr Ekkehard Schulz chairman of ThyssenKrupp's executive board said that "We have successfully started up the first key units at our new plants in North and South America. Blast furnace 1 in Brazil was fired up in mid July and the hot strip mill in Alabama produced its first coil at the end of July 2010."

The hot strip becomes operational 38 months after ThyssenKrupp chose its Alabama site in 2007. The mill takes slabs made elsewhere, heats them to 2,200 degrees in a furnace, and then rolls each into a flat sheet that is spun into a coil. The startup began with preheating the furnace. Then to test and calibrate machinery, workers put 13 slabs through the furnace and an initial roughing mill, but didn't roll them into coils.

On July 30th 2010, the carbon unit was ready to make its first coil. Scott Posey, spokesman for the carbon unit known as ThyssenKrupp Steel USA said the first three attempts didn't work out. Each time, steel became stuck in one of the mills or the coiler, and work had to be restarted.

The mill went on to roll 55 more coils before shutting down on August 8th 2010 to recalibrate and inspect machinery.

Mr Christoph Lackinger CEO of ThyssenKrupp Steel USA said that "For three years, we've been working toward this moment. While we won't be fully operational until our other two mills come on line, this first coil represents the start of our production."

The company plans to cut commemorative coins from the first coil to give to employees, Posey said. The other coils produced will be used to test the properties of the metal and for training in the cold rolling mill. That mill, the next major part of the carbon steel unit, rolls steel at slightly lower temperatures. It is scheduled to start in a few weeks.

The German steelmaker now has 1,440 employees in Calvert, 1,200 working for the carbon steel unit and 240 for a sister stainless operation. That's more than halfway to the 2,700 permanent employees that ThyssenKrupp has pledged to hire.

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