March 19, ArcelorMittal announced via a news release that it was taking steps “to reduce production from its European operations to ensure the wellbeing of our employees is maintained and that production is aligned with demand.” According to Platts, the company, which is headquartered in Luxembourg, also has decided to reduce its North American steel output, citing a March 23 interview with a spokesperson from the company.
Platts reports that ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor mill in East Chicago, Indiana, has started the process “to blow down the No. 4 blast furnace,” which involves continuing to produce iron and slag without adding raw materials until the upper part of the furnace is empty.
According to the ArcelorMittal website, the Indiana Harbor complex is the largest integrated steelmaking facility in North America. It features three blast furnaces and employs more than 4,000 people. The mill produces a range of flat products, including advanced high-strength steels, American Petroleum Institute (API) pipe skelp, motor-laminations, automotive exposed, martinsitic grades and aluminized steel.
"ArcelorMittal USA plans to work with the [United Steelworkers union] to minimize impact on our workforce for the duration of the outage by finding available opportunities for displaced workers in other areas of our operations," the company tells Platts. "ArcelorMittal will continue to engage with our customers in understanding the new market realities resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, which may require additional capacity optimization to align our production with end-use demand."
ArcelorMittal’s Indiana Harbor complex has the capacity to produce roughly 6.4 million tons of steel annually, according to the company.
Platts reports that the steelmaker also is scaling back production at its Dofasco mill in Hamilton, Ontario, in response to weakening end markets. The temporary blow down of the No. 3 blast furnace at the mill has been taken as a precaution to preserve the asset for future production.
Founded in 1912, ArcelorMittal Dofasco employs approximately 5,000 people in Hamilton and ships 4.5 million net tons of steel annually, the company notes on its website.
Platts, citing data from Association for Iron and Steel Technology, reports that the No. 3 blast furnace at Dofasco is the smallest of the three blast furnaces at the mill, with an annual rated capacity of 789,250 tons.
No jobs will be affected by the move, ArcelorMittal tells Platts.