US Steel to restart Illinois blast furnace

US Steel to restart Illinois blast furnace

One of two blast furnaces to restart in Granite City, Illinois, near St. Louis.

March 8, 2018
Edited by Brian Taylor

Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. has announced it will restart one of two blast furnaces (the “B” blast furnace) at its integrated steelmaking complex in Granite City, Illinois, near St. Louis, in March 2018.

The additional capacity “will support anticipated increased demand for steel in the U.S. from the pending action announced by President Donald J. Trump on March 1, 2018, as a result of the U.S. Department of Commerce Section 232 national security investigation on steel imports,” the company states as part of its announcement.

“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” says U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt. “The Section 232 action announced by President Trump recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security. The president’s strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security. We will continue to support our customers with the high-quality products they have come to expect from U. S. Steel.”

The company indicates it anticipates calling back approximately 500 employees beginning in March 2018. The restart process could take up to four months.

“We’ve worked closely and cooperatively with leadership of the United Steelworkers (USW) to develop a plan that will help us work through the restart process in the safest, most efficient manner possible while enabling longer-term collaboration designed to improve the plant’s competitiveness,” says Burritt. “We appreciate and thank the USW leadership and membership for their passionate efforts around the Section 232 investigation as well as in support of the restart process at Granite City Works. Together, we are committed to ensuring the steel industry remains a fundamental part of American manufacturing because American manufacturing is stronger with American-made steel.”

The company says it expects to provide information on the anticipated financial impact of the restart as more details on President Trump’s executive order become available.

Both Granite City Works blast furnaces and its steelmaking facilities were idled in December 2015, and the plant’s hot strip mill was idled in January 2016 in response to what U.S. Steel calls challenging market conditions, “including global excess steel capacity and unfairly traded imports.”

The pickle line, cold mill and finishing lines at Granite City Works continued to operate. The hot strip mill was restarted in February 2017, but Granite City's “A” blast furnace remains idled.