LITTLE ROCK – Big River Steel announced plans Tuesday to build a more than $1 billion steel mill in Mississippi County that will employ more than 500 people with annual average pay of $75,000 a year.

Gov. Mike Beebe will ask the Legislature to authorize the issuance of $125 million in general obligation bonds under Amendment 82, the first such use of the so-called superprojects amendment passed in 2004.

Beebe joined company officials in announcing the project during a news conference at the state Capitol.

John Correnti, Big River Steel’s chief executive officer, praised Arkansas’ work force and the state’s location "in the heart of the markets we intend to serve" and the state’s transportation infrastructure and availability of reliable electrical power.

"A project of this scope will be a catalyst for job creation, investment and economic development beyond this one facility," Beebe said. "Building Big River Steel will mean up to 2,000 construction jobs, and it will help us recruit more supplier businesses and steel consumers to northeast Arkansas."

Big River will produce steel for the automotive, oil and gas and electrical energy industries. Construction of the mill will take about 20 months from ground breaking which is expected later this year.