MOBILE, Ala. — Local managers of ThyssenKrupp AG’s stainless steel unit say the company could start production at its stainless melt shop in Calvert by 2013.The melt shop, which would take scrap and turn it into new steel, was delayed last year as Germany’s largest steelmaker put off capital spending as the economy crashed and the company lost money.ThyssenKrupp has said startup, originally set for this year, might be as distant as late 2014.The stainless unit is scheduled to begin processing steel this fall, but its raw product will be steel made in Europe, not in its own melt shop.ThyssenKrupp wants to be ready to benefit from a recovery in the highly cyclical stainless market, said Ulrich Albrecht-Frueh, chief executive officer of ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA. He said the firm’s directors are likely to vote on a 2013 startup in coming months.”We will not be successful without a melt shop,” Albrecht-Frueh said. “That is not a long-term sustainable solution.”ThyssenKrupp has to start soon on the project, estimated to cost around $300 million, to be ready for a market rebound.”It would take two years until the melt shop is up and running after a decision is made,” Albrecht-Frueh said.The stainless melt shop is a major element in the $5 billion complex growing on the Mobile-Washington county line. Going ahead with it would help sustain employment at the site, which has about 5,000 construction workers now.It would also mean stainless would reach full permanent employment of 900 more quickly. The separately managed carbon steel unit expects 1,800 permanent employees on site.The market for stainless steel contracted sharply in Europe and North America during the recession, as demand for cars, appliances and buildings plummeted. A recovery is underway, said steel analyst John Anton of IHS Global Insight, but it’s slow.Cranes unload steel slabs, which will be used by the ThyssenKrupp steel mill in Calvert, at the Alabama State Dock’s new Pinto Island Terminal.View full size(Press-Register/Bill Starling)A crane unloads a steel slab from a cargo ship at the Alabama State Dock’s new Pinto Island Terminal Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. These are the first steel slabs, which will be used by the ThyssenKrupp steel mill in Calvert, to be unloaded at the terminal. “The U.S. won’t be back up to pre-crash levels until 2013, 2012 at the earliest,” he said.Though China has already bounced back, he forecasts Europe won’t fully recover until 2014 or 2015, and Japan will take even longer.ThyssenKrupp already supplies 11 percent of the stainless steel used in the United States, all of it imported. The melt shop’s 1-million-metric-ton yearly capacity is equal to 78 percent of domestic output in 2007, and has sparked fears of a glut among other U.S. producers.ThyssenKrupp officials say the unit will give the firm a big boost in North American. Albrecht-Frueh said it will allow the firm to fill special orders without the six-week wait now needed to ship metal from Europe, and will help it expand beyond specialty products to higher-volume lines.”Our market share could be much better,” Albrecht-Frueh said. “In some cases we cannot deliver what our customers want, so we are not considered.”It would also help ThyssenKrupp’s Mexican stainless unit, which would import coils from Calvert, he said.Anton said a melt shop in the United States would also cut shipping costs, and reduce the risk of ThyssenKrupp suffering losses on currency exchange rates. Anton believes the euro will resume appreciating against the dollar over the long term, making European goods more expensive for American buyers.