Where Innovation Meets Success


AltaSteel is a pioneer of sorts, whose research and innovation, product quality and dedication to corporate responsibility has earned the company the recognition of being a market leader, not only in western Canada, but worldwide.

A Brief AltaSteel History

AltaSteel, formerly known as Premier Steel Mills Limited, started as a mini-mill steelmaker in 1955, the 50s being a decade which saw the emergence of a number of mini-mill steelmakers in Canada. These mills began to work alongside the much more capital intensive integrated steelmakers that used blast furnaces to produce liquid steel by combining iron ore, limestone and steel scrap.

Liquid steel can also be made by utilizing scrap steel and reduced iron melted in an electric arc furnace; by the mid 1950s, there were electricity generating facilities large enough to make such electric furnace steelmaking more practical and economical.

It was Premier Steel Mills Limited that became North America’s first mini-mill to use the electric arc furnace to make liquid steel which was then cast and moulded into desired shapes, and it was through innovation and design that the mini-mill steelmaking concept rose to new heights in North America in 1962. That was the year Premier Steel Mills was purchased by The Steel Company of Canada and became known as Stelco – Edmonton Works and ultimately, AltaSteel Limited in 1992. AltaSteel now employs more than 450 employees and generates over $200 million per year in revenue. It is one of the largest employers in Alberta’s capital region.

Today, mini-mills account for 60 percent of North America’s steel production. AltaSteel’s innovations gained the company recognition by the American Society of Materials (ASM), which honoured the first AltaSteel facility as an historical landmark in 2004.

‘Steel’-ing a Part of the World Stage

As a scrap-based mini-mill with melting and casting facilities, AltaSteel is seen as a world leader employing metallurgical engineers, state-of-the-art equipment and exceptional production and maintenance personnel to ensure quality products and services.

In the mining sector, AltaSteel is recognized for the manufacturing of grinding media, (heat treated grinding rods – of which AltaSteel has its own patent) and grinding balls used to crush ore for further processing in the mining industry. The rectangular metal bars not yet cast into shape are referred to as steel billets or ingots. AltaSteel produces 350,000 tonnes of ingots annually.

For other industries, AltaSteel produces flats for truck springs and off-road equipment, squares for the pipeline industry and sucker rods for oil wells. Additionally, AltaSteel manufactures reinforced bar (rebar), both regular and weldable in all sizes and grades, used extensively in major construction projects throughout Western Canada.

AltaSteel always strives to evaluate its customers’ needs, ensuring that the customer is supplied with the appropriate steel grade for a specified application – providing the “best fit” for their needs. The company ensures that the customer is provided with the much needed value and quality that they expect in an often competitive market.

AltaSteel operates as a subsidiary of Scaw Metals Group, owners of Maple Leaf Metals, a scrap metal and processing facility in Edmonton. It is Scaw Metals Group which also owns Moly-Cop based in Kamloops, British Columbia, a grinding ball facility which has the capability to produce 110,000 tons of grinding balls annually. AltaSteel is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified and maintains this certification through annual audits, ensuring that it maintains all required policies, processes and procedures. AltaSteel is also the recipient of the Canadian Innovation Award for Diversification of Exports for its grinding products.

Recognizing the Need for Skill and Innovation

AltaSteel recognizes that the high quality steel manufactured in Canada is highly dependent on the skilled men and women who are employed in its facility. Like much of Canada’s industrial sector, the steel industry faces the undeniable prospect that skilled employees will ultimately retire, leading to a shortage of skilled tradespeople, engineers and managers.

It is a fact that currently, half of Canada’s steelworkers are over 45 years of age. A recent report by the Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress (CSTEC) recognizes the need for universities, research institutions and industry to take action to bring more highly skilled industrial workers into the manufacturing sector.

To this end, AltaSteel has an onsite Learning Centre that ensures that its employees have access to continual learning and exposure to the continuously changing skills and knowledge requirements in the industry. Training is provided through mentoring, classroom and computer based formats. Employees are also encouraged to partake in outside training courses to upgrade their skills.

Promoting Safety

AltaSteel is a member of the Strathcona Industrial Association (SIA), a voluntary business organization that promotes a healthy and safe work environment in the community in which AltaSteel operates. AltaSteel is engaged in land planning, air monitoring and active participation in community awareness programs as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility mandate.

The business aims for zero work related injuries and illness, and this high standard applies not only to employees but to contractors and visitors to its facility. Management through Occupational Health and Safety is AltaSteel’s focus for ongoing continued success, a success that has enabled the facility to operate for 20 years without a fatality. AltaSteel holds OHSAS 18001 certification.

All employees of AltaSteel are both accountable and recognized for their participation in creating a safe, secure work environment and in constantly striving to improve the facility’s overall health and safety performance. It is this commitment to the promotion of health and safety that allows AltaSteel to maintain its competitive edge.

Respecting the Environment

Protecting the surrounding environment is also of paramount concern for AltaSteel, and the company recognizes the necessary long-term commitment, adherence to strict policy guidelines and compliance with federal, provincial and local regulations with respect to environmental protection acts. Since 2001, AltaSteel has invested over $100 million in innovation and new, more efficient facilities, and in 2007, AltaSteel voluntarily implemented a plan to reduce its diesel consumption used for mobile equipment. The plan has proven successful in that a 16 percent reduction in diesel use was achieved in 2008 and a 22 percent reduction in 2009, compared to 2007’s data.

This move has had the effect of reducing emissions from the facility – an annual average reduction of over 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide and nine tonnes of nitrogen oxide – attributed mostly to equipment idling reduction and equipment upgrades.

A multimillion dollar project was completed in 2009 in AltaSteel’s Bar Mill in which a billet reheat furnace, in use since 1967, was replaced with a Danieli reheat furnace, a modern replacement that enables waste gas heat recovery through combustion air re-heating. This also reduces nitrogen oxide emissions and reduces – by 40 percent – the facility’s natural gas consumption per billet tonne.

AltaSteel has two recirculating closed loop water systems providing equipment cooling to the Bar Mill. Upgrades to the Number 1 process system in November 2010 replaced submerged transfer pumps from 1976 with above ground horizontal pumps that no longer require a constant supply of water for bearing lubrication. This has resulted in an 18 percent reduction in monthly water consumption for the facility.

As well, AltaSteel recycles over 330,000 tonnes of scrap steel annually into various products and is one of the largest recyclers in western Canada. At least 70 percent of scrap metal comes from the greater Edmonton area and it is both AltaSteel and Maple Leaf Metals that aid their communities in recycling material that would otherwise find its way to garbage dumps or landfill sites.

Giving Back to the Community

AltaSteel believes in giving back to the Edmonton and Strathcona County area, acknowledging that the community has been a driving force for the facility’s success. AltaSteel contributes in a number of ways:

*AltaSteel participates in Edmonton’s annual Corporate Challenge. The Challenge brings together employees from participating companies into a 17 day celebration of sport, recreation and teamwork. The Corporate Challenge is essentially a promotion of health, wellness and the upholding of the competitive spirit between businesses, large and small.

*AltaSteel and the United Steel Workers Local 5220 are major community contributors to the United Way through their annual fundraising events and annual food drives which raise over one tonne of food donations which are then distributed to local food banks in Edmonton.

*As a Partner for Life with the Canadian Blood Services, AltaSteeel encourages its employees to participate in blood donation on a regular basis.

*AltaSteel’s Scholarship Program supports the children and spouses of current employees in educational advancements. The Program is run annually, from July to September and recognizes scholastic achievements through financial assistance for those studying at a recognized Canadian college or university.

It has been said that the steel industry is Canada’s backbone. Indeed, it has transformed our transportation, energy and resource sectors through innovation and design. AltaSteel continues to remain a key player in that transformation.

July 17, 2018, 7:23 AM EDT

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