Braidy Industries plans to begin construction on Braidy Atlas, the first greenfield aluminum rolling mill in the past 35 years in the US. The project, which is expected to cost $1.7bn will be built in Ashland, Kentucky with construction commencing in 2020.
Braidy has been working to secure the funding necessary to build the 300,000nt (272,232mt) annual capacity mill for several years now. The mills’ goal is to produce cost-effective, lightweight aluminum series 3000, 5000, and 6000 sheets that are 20pc stronger.
The project requires about $500mn in equity and $1.2bn in debt financing, both of which are expected to be finalized as early as Q1 2020. The mill is likely to begin producing aluminum sheet for cars and other products in 2021.
A Braidy spokesperson confirmed that the project is on track and that the company has spent nearly $40mn preparing for construction. One of Braidy’s earliest investors was Kentucky’s state government, which contributed $15mn in 2017. The state is allowed to remove its investment if the company doesn’t invest $1bn in the mill by Dec. 31, 2020, according to an SEC filing. In June 2019, the company closed the crowdfunding common stock offering that attracted $1.07bn in funding towards the project.
A Russian firm, United Co. Rusal previously under US sanctions, agreed in April 2019 to invest $200mn in Braidy’s mill. Rusal is the world’s largest producers of aluminum outside China and historically, has been one of the US’ top non-domestic supplier of prime aluminum.
The new mill plans to roll aluminum slabs from abroad making Rusal an essential strategic partner. In exchange for its investments, which was approved by both companies’ boards in May 2019, Rusal will obtain a 40pc share in the project and become Braidy’s exclusive supplier of low-carbon aluminum, providing close to 2mn mt over 10 years with a market value of approximately $500mn per year. No US domestic smelter currently delivers low-carbon primary aluminum slabs.
The mill project is in response to increased demand for flat-rolled aluminum products in North America, especially, the US given Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) that mandates progressively improved fuel economy from cars.