Recent news from the various sectors of the recycling industry

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SDI confirms Mississippi site selection

Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) has selected Columbus, Mississippi, for its previously announced greenfield recycled-content flat-rolled aluminum mill.

SDI says Columbus is “strategically located within the targeted Southeast market, bringing numerous competitive-customer, recycled-material and renewable-energy advantages to the project.” The Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company already operates a scrap-fed electric arc furnace steel mill in the east-central Mississippi city.

Final site determination for the project, given a $2.2 billion price tag by SDI in its initial announcement, is “subject to the anticipated receipt of necessary permits and continued state and local government support,” the metals company says.

“We are eager to expand our presence in Columbus, and we deeply value the warm welcome and support that we have received,” SDI President and CEO Mark D. Millett says, citing Gov. Tate Reeves and the state of Mississippi, as well as leaders from the Mississippi Development Authority and local leaders from the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and other regional agencies as those extending the welcome.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Mississippi lawmakers approved $247 million in state-granted incentives through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority during a Nov. 2, 2022, session called by Reeves. The report adds that many legislators voted on the incentives without knowing the name of the company.

Reeves issued a statement that says SDI will use the state funds for site acquisition and preparation, infrastructure improvements and workforce training.

Lowndes County also is providing land and public infrastructure, and the Tennessee Valley Authority and 4-County Electrical Power Association are assisting.

In addition, SDI’s joint venture SDI Biocarbon Solutions LLC will construct a biocarbon production facility that is expected to be completed in late 2023.

“We are eager to move this significant growth investment forward,” Millett says. “We have intentionally grown with our customers’ needs, providing efficient sustainable supply chain solutions for the highest quality products. Thus far, this has primarily been achieved within the carbon steel industry—however, a significant number of our flat-rolled carbon steel customers are also consumers and processors of aluminum flat-rolled products. This investment broadens our ability to serve our existing and new customers by adding high-quality, low-carbon-footprint flat-rolled aluminum to our product portfolio.”

He says feedback from potential buyers of the metal to be produced has been positive. “Our customers are excited for us to enter the aluminum flat-rolled market as we have been discussing plans for several of them to co-locate on-site with us.

“These customers would experience a significant logistics savings, working capital efficiency and decarbonization benefits compared to their current supply chain configurations,” Millett says.

Lowering its investment figure and capacity from its initial announcement, SDI says, “The planned $1.9 billion aluminum flat-rolled mill is designed to have an annual production capacity of 650,000 tons of finished products, serving the sustainable beverage packaging, automotive and common alloy industrial sectors.”

Regarding scrap use, SDI says, “The company’s focus on decarbonization will also be applied to this aluminum operation, including plans to use a significant amount of pre- and postconsumer aluminum scrap in its production process, supported by the company’s metals recycling platform, which is the largest nonferrous metals recycler in North America.”

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Justice Department takes down catalytic converter theft ring

Federal, state and local law enforcement partners from across the U.S. executed a nationwide, coordinated takedown of leaders and associates of a national network of thieves, dealers and processors for their roles in conspiracies involving stolen catalytic converters sold to a metal refinery for tens of millions of dollars.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice (DOJ), arrests, searches and seizures happened in California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia. In total, 21 individuals in five states have been charged for their roles in the conspiracy.

The 21 defendants are charged in two separate indictments that were unsealed in early November 2022 in the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of Oklahoma following searches and arrests. In addition, more than 32 search warrants were executed, and law enforcement seized millions of dollars in assets, including homes, bank accounts, cash and luxury vehicles.

“Amid a rise in catalytic converter thefts across the country, the Justice Department has today carried out an operation arresting 21 defendants and executing 32 search warrants in a nationwide takedown of a multi-million-dollar catalytic converter theft network,” Attorney General Merrick Garland says. “We will continue to work alongside our state and local partners to disrupt criminal conspiracies like this one that targets the American people.”

Catalytic converters use precious metals such as palladium, platinum and rhodium in their center, or “core,” to reduce toxic gas and pollutants from a vehicle’s internal combustion engine. The black-market price for catalytic converters can be more than $1,000 each, depending on the type of vehicle and what state it is from.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California returned a 40-count indictment charging nine defendants with conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other related charges.

According to court documents, brothers Tou Sue Vang, 31, and Andrew Vang, 27, as well as Monica Moua, 51, all of Sacramento, California, allegedly operated an unlicensed business from their residence in Sacramento where they bought stolen catalytic converters from local thieves and shipped them to DG Auto Parts LLC in New Jersey for processing. The Vang family allegedly sold more than $38 million in stolen catalytic converters to DG Auto.

Defendants Navin Khanna, 39; Tinu Khanna, 35; Daniel Dolan, 44; Chi Mo, 37; Wright Louis Mosley, 50; and Ishu Lakra, 24, all of New Jersey, allegedly operated DG Auto in multiple locations in New Jersey. The DOJ says they knowingly purchased stolen catalytic converters and, through a decanning process, extracted the precious metal powders from the catalytic core. DG Auto sold the precious metal powders it processed from California and elsewhere to a metal refinery for more than $545 million.

A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Oklahoma returned a 40-count indictment charging 13 defendants with conspiracy to receive stolen catalytic converters, conspiracy to commit money laundering and other related charges.

According to court documents, the defendants bought stolen catalytic converters from thieves on the street, then resold and shipped them to DG Auto in New Jersey for processing. Defendant Tyler James Curtis allegedly received more than $13 million in wired funds from DG Auto for the shipment of catalytic converters and more than $500,000 from Capital Cores for catalytic converters, while defendant Adam G. Sharkey allegedly received more than $45 million in wired funds from DG Auto and defendant Martynas Macerauskas allegedly received more than $6 million in payments from DG Auto.

The DOJ says in all these incidents, most of the catalytic converters sold to DG Auto were stolen, and DG Auto knew or should have known that when it paid for them.

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January 2023
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