A judge gave US Steel Canada permission on Friday to restart its Hamilton coke oven battery. A deal was formulated to allow coke produced at the plant to be sold to parent company US Steel in the United States.
US Steel spokesperson Trevor Harris told SMU the restart is limited to the currently hot-idled coke battery.
“The specific timing of the re-start and the recall of employees from lay-off will be contingent on the availability of raw materials, but is expected to take place during the first quarter of 2015,” said Harris. “The cold mill and galvanizing lines will continue to operate at Hamilton Works.”
Raw coal must be shipped to the plant before the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway shipping season ends.
“They have to get enough coal on the ground to run the coke ovens over the winter,” said Rolf Gerstenberger, United Steelworkers Local 1005 President. “You don’t want to start the coke ovens up and have to shut them down because the seaway’s frozen.”
Documents filed in the Canadian Court on Thursday explain the reasoning for the restart.
“It would generate net positive incremental cash flow for USSC, eliminate USSC’s hot idle costs of the Hamilton Works coke ovens, and generate by-products that are beneficial to the operation,” stated the court documents.
“The arrangement may also enhance the prospects of a future sale of the coke ovens as an operating fully staffed asset,” the documents continue.
Coke operations were idled at Hamilton Works in October 2014 after USS Canada filed for creditor protection. The restart of the coke battery will put 77 laid-off employees back to work.
The letter to Hamilton Works employees from President and General Manager Michael A. McQuade can be viewed here.
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