ASHLAND, Ky. — Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard expressed confidence Tuesday that the company is in perfect position to open its $1.7 billion Braidy Atlas mill in northeastern Kentucky in 2021 – and it has done it faster than anybody expected.

As of Tuesday, he said, $300 million has been raised and the majority of the capital needed is now in hand either in cash, binding commitments or letters of intent.

In other words, he said, it’s coming.

“Our progress building one of the largest mills in the world has gone faster than any project of this size in memory,” Bouchard said. “We couldn’t be more excited about our future and the positive impact we will have on the economy of eastern Kentucky.”

The plant, scheduled to be built at the EastPark Industrial Center near Ashland, would be the largest greenfield aluminum rolling mill in the world and the first one built in the United States in 37 years.

The mill was given $15 million in state taxpayer seed money two years ago and is considered the main building block to the future economy in eastern Kentucky. The area has been hit hard with job losses in steel and coal over the last 25 years.

Braidy represents hope for the region and Bouchard knows it, even though there are naysayers.

“When I drive past that rusting AK Steel plant on the Ohio River, I feel sick for the 7,000 proud American men and women who once worked at that magnificent plant,” Bouchard said. “These blows to the community led to the opioid plague that is taking our kids.”

Some have questioned Braidy’s partnership with United Co. Rusal, a Russian-based company expected to supply 200,000 tons of low-carbon prime aluminum in slabs over a 10-year period. Rusal made a $200 million investment in Braidy that included them taking 40 percent share of the mill.

“Our mill has no government contracts and there are no national security issues involved,” Bouchard said. “This was poorly reported by publications that did not do their homework.”