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Liberty Steel gives update on Bayou Steel

LAPLACE — London-based Liberty Steel Group acquired the idled Bayou Steel facility in LaPlace earlier this year with intentions to modernize the steel mill, restart recycling operations in the latter half of 2020 and resume steel-making operations by 2021.

Bayou Steel ceased operations on Sept. 30, 2019 with the unexpected, immediate layoff of 376 employees. The company owed more than $20 million to dozens of creditors, according to court documents available at kccllc.net.

A spokesperson for Liberty told L’OBSERVATEUR that Liberty recently reopened recycling operations at the facility — marking the first activity at the plant since the business went into bankruptcy under previous ownership. The site is taking deliveries of scrap and is trading in metal, with shipments to be made both by river and by road.

“Liberty Steel purchased the former Bayou Steel plant in LaPlace, Louisiana, in early 2020 because it saw potential in the business, with access to supplies of recyclable material, competitive power pricing and a deep-water port,” the Liberty spokesperson said in an emailed statement to L’OBSERVATEUR on June 5.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on investment conditions in the steel industry globally, Liberty is committed to its work in the LaPlace facility.

“Nevertheless, Liberty is working with experts from Danieli, the industrial equipment supplier, to assess restart options for the steelworks. Liberty will update the local community on its plans in due course,” the spokesperson said.

The acquisition of Bayou Steel adds to Liberty Steel Group’s existing operations in Illinois, Ohio, New Mexico and South Carolina.

According to a December 2019 Liberty press release, the acquisition is in line with Liberty’s GREENSTEEL Vision with a goal to achieve carbon neutral steel production by 2030. The GREENSTEEL Vision focuses primarily on renewable sources of energy and recycled materials.

Liberty Steel Group is part of the GFG Alliance, a global group headquartered in London. The alliance is made up of energy, mining, metal and engineering companies.

Bayou Steel was the fourth largest employer of St. John the Baptist Parish residents in 2018 and a major contributor to the tax roll, with 400 employees accounting for two percent of the local working population.