SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): The United States Steel Corporation (US Steel) has announced its decision to reopen the idled hot strip mill in Granite City, Illinois. The company press release states that the company will begin processing slabs at the Granite City Works mill during mid-February next year.
According to Erin Dipietro, the manager of External Communications for U.S. Steel, the decision to resume partial operations at the facility is part of the earlier announced asset revitalization process. Last week, the company CEO Mario Longhi had announced that the company looks to restore up to 10,000 jobs in the United States. He had promised increased investment in US steel facilities in light of the proposed changes in regulation and tax laws announced by the American President-elect Donald Trump.
The restart will help the company to meet the demand from its North American flat-rolled customers. The company plans to announce periodic outages at Gary Works, Great Lakes Works and Mon Valley Works in order to improve the reliability and efficiency of its hot strip mills. The production of slabs at Granite City will account for the outages planned at the above mentioned mills. However, there are no layoffs planned for other facilities in connection with this project, clarified Dipietro.
The decision to restart the hot strip mill is expected to bring back nearly 220 jobs, out of which nearly 200 would be for unionized workers. Although the processing work is expected to commence only by mid-February 2017, workers are being informed to return to job at the earliest to set up production and undergo training.
The company press release further states that the blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities will continue to remain idled. At the same time, the pickle line, cold mill and finishing lines at Granite City Works will continue to operate as usual. It must be noted that the company had idled the Granite City Works blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities in December last year, whereas the hot strip mill was idled in January this year. The company had cited challenging global market conditions as the reason for this idling, which in turn had affected nearly 1,500 jobs. Incidentally, the total employee count of the company at all operations had reduced by almost one-fourth from around 28,000 in 2007 to 21,000 in end-2015.
The decision was widely welcomed by idled employees as well as local politicians who have been pushing hard for an early restart to mill operations. State Rep. Jay Hoffman welcomed the announcement, stating it as good news from the steelmaker, though it is not close to what they are working for. U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, who also welcomed the news, reminded that more works need to be done to ensure resumption of full-fledged operations at the plant. Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler too greeted the decision. Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer expressed the hope that the facility would soon commence making steel.
About US Steel
United States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is an integrated steel producer with major production operations in North America and Central Europe and an annual raw steelmaking capability of 24.4 million net tons. The company manufactures a wide range of value-added steel sheet and tubular products for the automotive, appliance, container, industrial machinery, construction, and oil and gas industries.