Steel Mills

USS Great Lakes: More Questions than Answers

Written by John Packard

The word out of U.S. Steel has been silence since they reported a collection pipe (collector main) falling onto and collapsing part of the roof over their #2 BOP Shop at Great Lakes Works on Thursday evening. Our understanding continues to be that all three blast furnaces are in hot idle (not producing pig iron) and the two BOF’s (or BOP’s) are not operating. This means that steel making operations are temporarily suspended.

The Great Lakes plant has three blast furnaces of which two were operating at the time of the incident. The two furnaces produce about 8,000 tons per day of pig iron. To this the mill we’ll add approximately 30 percent scrap charge. All told we believe the impact to be approximately 11,000 tons per day of lost steel production. We are keeping track of the blast furnace status on our website. You can locate the furnace status tab when logged into the website under Resources – Steel Mills – Furnace Status.

U.S. Steel customers are reporting very little information has been flowing out of the company regarding how long the mill hot end will be down. We did hear from one of our industry sources that their information put a restart of the hot end sometime around the 7th of April (Monday of next week). However, from other sources we are hearing that the outage could be as far out as four weeks. No one is quite sure and that probably includes many at USS.

Our sources are advising SMU that US Steel is talking to Severstal Dearborn about the possibility of moving hot pig iron to Severstal and having them roll slabs for USS, then moving them back to Great Lakes. This would allow USS to keep their furnaces running as well as their downstream operations. No decision has made and talks continue. These talks lead us to believe that the facility will be back up by April 7th is wishful thinking.

We have asked USS for guidance and late this afternoon they provided us with the following: “We continue to work on the repairs at Great Lakes Works following the incident from the last week. In the meantime, we are in contact with our customers in an effort to minimize the impact on their operations.”

We did see a lead time sheet for the construction mills of U.S. Steel which reported coated steel lead times running from late April (4/27) on Galvalume out of Double G and Fairfield (Granite City AZ is quoting late May (5/25)). For galvanized, we are seeing lead times on construction product mills from early to mid May at Mon Valley (5/4 & 5/11) and Double G (5/11), to late May at all of their other facilities with galvanneal out of Fairless having the most extended lead time, the first week of June.

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