A Mini Steel Mill or Mini-Mill as they are referred to, is a Mill which manufacturers steel products from scrap metal. Unlike an Integrated Steel Mill, which produces new steel from iron ore and various other additives in a blast furnace, a Mini Mill melts and refines scrap steel using one or more Electric Arc Furnaces (EAF's).
Steel is produced in several stages in Mini Mills. First, Ferrous scrap is refined and melted in an Electric Arc Furnace. Next, the molten steel is often further refined applying a metallurgy process using what is called a Ladle Furnace. Next, the steel is shaped into semi-finished products such as slabs, blooms or billets. These semi-finished products may be further processed into finished products using methods such as annealing, hot forming (rolling), cold rolling, pickling, galvanizing, coating, and/or painting. Compact Endless Casting & Rolling, a "CEM Process", which is an innovative process used to integrate the Casting & Rolling processes in a single manufacturing line, may be incorporated to achieve Endless or Continuous production through the Key Technologies of High Speed Casting and Inline Rolling by Direct Process Linking.
Much of the steel produced in Mini Mills is carbon steel (as opposed to stainless or specialty steel) which is used in various applications including construction, automobile manufacturing, and in the production of appliances and other consumer products. Finished steel products produced in Mini Mills include long products such as straight or coiled rebar, coiled wire rod, various structural shapes such as angles, sections, etc., steel plate, steel sheet, and hot strip steel in coils.
Being somewhat smaller with less manufacturing stages, Mini mills are easier to start and stop than traditional integrated mills and due to their nature, can efficiently produce steel products in smaller batches than integrated mills can. A Mini mill is usually more energy-efficient than an integrated mill as they use mostly recycled scrap and require less electricity to operate. Mini Mill production on average results in a huge reduction in greenhouse gases when compared to steel production utilizing iron ore as the base. According to the US (EPA), Mini Mills accounted for around 10 percent of U.S. steel production around 50 years ago, and then, the USA Mini Mill production percentage increased to over 50% of USA steel output around 25 years ago, a major shift lessening Integrated Mill production while increasing Mini Mill production in the United States.
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