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The tandem rolling of hot metal strip presents a significant control challenge because of nonlinearities and process complexities. The challenge is heightened by an extremely hostile environment that precludes the location of sensors to measure process variables that are important for control. In addition, it is essential that the controller structure allows for a high degree of physical intuition in the design process and provides for simplicity of tuning during commissioning. Based on our previous work using a state-dependent Riccati equation (SDRE) technique for control of the tandem cold rolling process, it is considered that a similar method might also be useful as a basis for the development of a control technique for tandem hot strip rolling. For the hot rolling process, the development of a process model in a form that is suitable for use with a SDRE-based method is a significant and challenging task. This paper describes our work to develop an initial model for this process. Based on simulation results, it is determined that this initial model has the potential to be the basis for the development of the complete nonlinear model that can be used for development of a viable control method which offers the likelihood for improvement in the control of the hot metal rolling process.