Schnitzer's Steel Manufacturing Business purchases recycled metal through our Auto and Metals Recycling facilities business and re-melts it into high-quality finished steel products. Operating as Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, we produce a wide range of products at our state-of-the-art mini-mill including reinforcing bar (rebar), coiled reinforcing bar, wire rod, merchant bar and other specialty products. Our mini-mill is the only one in the Western U.S. that can obtain all its recycled metal through its own affiliated metal recycling operations. We have an annual operating capacity of up to 800,000 tons of finished products.
Cascade Steel's electric arc furnace (EAF) is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional blast furnaces. Processed scrap is melted by the EAF and then cast into semi-finished goods called billets. On-site rolling mills convert the billets into the finished products, primarily reinforcing bar and wire rod.
Cascade Steel sells to customers primarily located in the 10 western states and Canada from its mill in McMinnville, OR (near Portland) and a distribution center in El Monte, CA (near Los Angeles). Our mill has direct access to rail service and close proximity to major highways and deep draft marine terminals in Portland for cost-effective transportation. Typical customers are steel service centers, construction industry subcontractors, steel fabricators, wire drawers and major farm and wood product suppliers. In addition, Cascade is the only mill in the Western U.S. with the ability to produce products for the nuclear construction industry as it is Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA) certified.
Our steel manufacturing process begins in the melt shop with the melting of scrap metal in our electric arc furnace. The molten steel is then tested and refined in our ladle refining furnace into the precise quality of steel needed. Our melt shop's enhanced steel chemistry refining capabilities allow us to produce special alloy grades of steel not currently produced by other mills on the West Coast. Finally, molten steel is casted into long bars called billets in our five-strand continuous billet caster. These billets are the raw material of the rolling mill portion of the process that follows.
Our facilities include two computerized rolling mills that allow for synchronized operation of the rolling mills and related equipment. The billets produced in the melt shop are reheated in two natural gas furnaces into a plastic-like state and then hot-rolled through one of the two rolling mills to form them into the desired shapes to produce the desired finished products.
We pride ourselves in the quality of our products, our competitive pricing and our exceptional customer service. To maintain our competitive edge, we are frequently investing in improvements to our facilities and our technology. For example, we have developed rebar products that feature a patented corrosion-resistant, high-strength steel technology licensed from our partner, MMFX Technologies Corporation.
Sustainability and the Environment
Sustainability starts with our business model. Recycling metal instead of using virgin ore to create new steel products saves energy and natural resources. By using recycled metals, the steel industry saves enough energy each year to power 18 million households. Recycling one ton of steel conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. Creating products from recycled steel instead of virgin ore uses 40% less water and reduces mining wastes by 97%. Also, because of the high percentage of recycled content and high reclamation rate our products are ideally suited for LEED building projects, significantly contributing to LEED certification.
However, sustainability doesn't end with our business model. We are constantly working on reducing our environmental footprint. Over the years, we've improved our processes and controls, invested capital to increase our efficiency and decrease our energy use and fostered a culture of resourcefulness and accountability. For many years, we've shown that it is possible to operate profitably while maintaining a focus on sustainability and being responsible stewards of our environment.
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