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BlueScope Seeks to Build Up U.S. Coating, Painting Business

BlueScope Seeks to Build Up U.S. Coating, Painting Business

BlueScope Steel Ltd. is likely to focus its future expansion in North America more on value-added steel products than adding to its steel-making capacity, its chief executive said in an interview.

The Australia-based steel company is nearing completion of a project to add about 850,000 metric tons a year of capacity to its North Star mini-mill in Delta, Ohio, where existing capacity is roughly 2.1 million tons and could raise output there further with a so-called debottlenecking project later.

However, Chief Executive Mark Vassella sees more value for BlueScope building out its portfolio downstream than trying to rival North America’s top steel producers.

“We’ve still got room to expand” steel output at North Star, but “you won’t see us necessarily pushing into that space,” Mr. Vassella told The Wall Street Journal on Monday. “Midstream and downstream, we think there are really good opportunities for us to bring some of the skills that we have in other parts of the portfolio,” he said.

BlueScope has already started engineering and other studies on one potential new painting and coating steel products plant in the east of the U.S. Mr. Vassella said no decisions have been made yet on that possible investment.

But BlueScope is keen to increase its presence in the U.S., with Mr. Vassella citing a strong demand outlook.

“There’s a massive amount of infrastructure that needs to be built in this country,” said Mr. Vassella, speaking by phone from Kansas City. “So yes, more to do. We’re excited about North America.”

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