Wieland Kicks Off $500M Plant Redevelopment

Graycor and Helmkamp are part of the construction team for the Greater St. Louis project.

Work is preparing to start on a $500 million modernization and expansion of a production facility owned by Wieland Group, a specialist in semi-finished copper and copper alloy products. The multi-phase project at Casting Unit 6 will replace an existing hot rolling facility in the St. Louis suburb of East Alton, Ill., that is more than 100 years old.

The Wieland expansion project in East Alton, Ill.
The Wieland expansion project in East Alton, Ill. Image courtesy Wieland Group

The redeveloped CU6 facility will feature hot mill lines, milling lines, a cold rolling mill, high-bay storage with automated material handling and overhead cranes, according to Wieland, which tapped Graycor Inc. and Helmkamp Construction Co. to do the construction work, Vestal Corp. to provide various design services, and Salas O’Brien to provide engineering design services.

The state of Illinois recently approved a $231 million incentive package for Wieland, which operates six facilities in the state, including tax benefits totaling $172 million over 30 years. Other incentive dollars will be for infrastructure projects in East Alton, such as the development of a new electricity substation, and funds for workforce support.

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Wieland’s plant in Vöhringen, Germany, is being used as a benchmark for the modernization of the East Alton facility. In total, Ulm, Germany-based Wieland has about 80 production facilities worldwide.

The project will increase the casting capacity and quality of copper production at the facility, the company said. Over a number of phases, the project will dig deep foundations to support new casting equipment and install an overhead crane, among other features. The building will have metal siding and roofing over heavy structural steel.

Copper product demand to spike in green energy future

Copper products will be integral to the energy transition in North American, according to a company statement. The development of renewable energy infrastructure is heavily dependent on copper, among other minerals.

The transition to green energy, which is being pushed by market forces and central governments in different parts of the world, is expected to drive demand for copper in the coming decades, according to a forecast by the International Monetary Fund.

For example, charging stations require substantial amounts of copper, the IMF noted, while solar panels use large quantities of copper and other metals. Wind turbines also require copper, as well as iron and aluminum.

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