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An air permit for Big River Steel, the $1.1 billion steel mill that is planned to be built near Osceola, was approved by the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission on Friday.

The commission upheld a decision by Administrative Law Judge Charles Moulton, who affirmed the air permit in a 70-page decision on March 20.

Friday's ruling means construction on the plant could begin in late June or early July, said John Correnti, chief executive officer of Big River Steel, who attended the meeting. The plant still awaits approval from its foreign lenders, which Correnti expects to happen in June.

In March, Correnti said he couldn't move forward with construction until the plant had “a rock-solid air permit.” Friday's ruling gave the plant the permit it was seeking, Correnti said.

Nucor Corp., which challenged the air permit and is an owner of two steel mills in Mississippi County near Big River Steel's proposed location, is expected to appeal Friday's decision.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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