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Mexico’s Frisa Expanding Reach into SBQ Market

By Tim Triplett 

Frisa Steel is investing $250 million in new equipment at its electric arc furnace mill in Monterrey, Mexico, to increase its melting capacity and to add hot rolled SBQ to its product offering for the North American Market.

Frisa’s EAF is rated for 350,000 tons per year but has not been fully utilized due to product offering limitations and downstream bottlenecks. Work is underway to add a second ladle furnace, a second vacuum degasser and a second ingot bay, which will bring the mill up to its full capacity, said Antonio Alvarez, Frisa Steel’s vice president of business development and executive vice president of Frisa USA.

Today, Frisa makes forged bar ranging from 6 to 36 inches in carbon, alloy, tool and stainless steels. Installation of new blooming and continuous rolling mills and finishing equipment next year will give it the capability to produce rolled bar from 3.5 to 16 inches in diameter, Alvarez said.

Frisa expects to commission its new equipment at the end of 2024. “We need to expand our liquid steel capacity to supply the rolling mill, which is a new market for us. We won’t have enough steel if we don’t do this,” he said.

Frisa is seeking to capitalize on what it sees as a shortage of SBQ production capacity to serve the North American market. “We would have been fine just continuing to do what we were doing, but we decided to also grow our bar capabilities and further support the North American market.”

Alvarez describes Frisa as a “boutique producer.” Today, Frisa consumes 90 percent of the steel that comes from its EAF internally. “Our heats are relatively small, we have a 50 MT EAF, and we make a wide variety of materials -- the way our own forging business demands it,” he said. “Going forward, our plan is to extend that product diversity to external customers.”

Why the decision to invest now? Alvarez noted that competition from outside the USMCA is on the rise in North American steel and forging markets. The reshoring of manufacturing to Mexico, Canada and the U.S. represents new opportunity, he said.

Frisa is a family-owned company founded in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1971. It has a long history of supplying high-quality seamless rolled rings and open-die forgings to the oil and gas market. More recently, it has diversified into aerospace, power generation, wind turbines, construction, mining and industrial machinery. Today it operates five facilities, four in Mexico and one in the U.S.

Frisa’s future expansion plans include the addition of a second EAF, which would take the company’s annual melt capacity up to 500,000 ingot tons when commissioned.

Tim Triplett has covered the metals markets for nearly 30 years as a former editor at Metal Center News and Steel Market Update. Tim will be a periodic contributor to FIA Magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].