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Grupo Acerero plate mill operates at 25% capacity, aims for ramp-up in 2021


Full ramp-up in 2021

Targets import substitution

Focus on distribution market for structural steel

Mexico City — Mexican steelmaker Grupo Acerero is currently operating its new plate mill at 25% of capacity, and aims for full ramp-up in 2021, said the company's commercial director Mario Macías.

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The unit includes a 360,000 mt/year plate mill located in San Luis Potosí, Central Mexico, and debuts the group's participation in the flat steel production.

The plate mill was commissioned in January, just before the coronavirus outbreak globally, but Macías sees plenty of opportunities as the mill is the second of this kind in Mexico.

Until now, the sole producer was Alto Hornos de Mexico SA, or Ahmsa, which can process 300,000 mt/year of plate at its Monclova unit, northern Coahuila state.

Despite the current adverse conditions, "the new plate mill is operating with about 180 people and it counts with high technology where large parts of the processes are automated," said the executive in an interview with S&P Global Platts Aug. 10.

The mill is able to produce sheet plate in thickness of 3/8 to 4 inches and in 20 and 40 feet long for structural applications. "This enable us to substitute imports volumes that represent about 50% of the domestic demand from distributors," he said.

Nevertheless, he added: "The main challenges have been the lack of public spending and infrastructure projects as well as the pandemic scenario that reduced demand for structural plates."

Exports are also on the radar, but first the company is looking to balance production, slab procurement and full understanding of market systematic.

Grupo Acerero's new plant manufacturing relies on third-party slabs as raw material, which are currently purchased domestically in Mexico, and also imported from Brazil and Europe.

Historically, Grupo Acerero has been a long steel producer with four plants in San Luis Potosí with an annual production capacity of 840,000 mt of rebar, reinforcing welded mesh, wire rod and nails.

The group has a national presence on long steels and exports to neighboring countries US, Canada and also to Latin America.