Steel Mills

ArcelorMittal Not Affected by Ice Blocking USS Gary Deliveries

Written by Sandy Williams

Unusual ice build-up on the Great Lakes has caused delays of raw materials headed for steel mills in the Midwest. Earlier this week, US Steel notified customers that Gary Works blast furnaces and steelmaking operations will be down temporarily due to “unforeseen and unprecedented ice conditions on the Great Lakes that is delaying the transportation of critical raw materials.”

SMU asked ArcelorMittal if they are experiencing similar problems. ArcelorMittal said the “ice conditions are the worst in 30 years” and the company is “monitoring the situation very closely.” A spokesman gave the following statement:

“To date, ArcelorMittal operations in the Midwest have maintained finished inventories and on time deliveries despite the harsh winter, and we recognize and thank our employees for their commitment in this effort. We also benefit from sourcing a significant amount of raw material from Lake Michigan ports, which do not transit the Soo Locks.

“ArcelorMittal’s three U.S. integrated facilities on the Great Lakes depend on our waterways for raw material shipments, which include roughly 21 million tons of iron ore per year. This situation underscores the need for Congress to support the valuable work of the US Coast Guard’s heavy icebreaker Mackinaw and pass the Water Resources Development Act, which will provide crucial funding to the Army Corps of Engineers for the maintenance and modernization of our waterways.”

Ice on Lake Michigan reached a record in March with 93.29 percent ice cover.  Ice so far this month has been moving in and out of Chicago Harbor with the winds making shipping difficult. Chunks of ice up to 8 feet thick are clogging the commercial waterways, quickly refilling the open water as ice breaking ships clear the path. The Coast Guard antiicpate ice breaking to continue into well into May this year.  Melting snow and ice is expected to raise the water level 14 inches by August according to the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Steel buyers need to be ready for interruptions in shipping on the Mississippi River as the ice in the northern regions of the country melt pushing river levels higher. The higher river levels and threats of flooding affect barge traffic.

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