Steel Mills

AK Steel to Idle Ashland Works Blast Furnace

Written by Sandy Williams

AK Steel announced on Friday that it will temporarily idle the blast furnace and related steelmaking operations at the Ashland, Kentucky Works facility as a result of challenging domestic market conditions. AK Steel said it does not intend to idle the hot-dip galvanizing line at Ashland Works that primarily services automotive customers.

The company has issued a sixty day notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act to hourly and salaried employees. The idling of the blast furnace and related operations could begin in mid-December 2015 and last more than six months, depending on market conditions.

Amanda, the name of the blast furnace located at Ashland, is capable of producing 2,000,000 tons per year of liquid pig iron which is then fed into the mill’s basic oxygen furnace where, when mixed with scrap, the steelmaking facilities are capable of producing approximately 2.1 million tons of steel.

AK Steel said it has appropriate steelmaking capacity at its other plants to meet customer requirements and does not expect any interruptions in shipments to its customers.

“We are taking this necessary step due to the onslaught of what we believe are unfairly traded imports of carbon steel that have been flooding our shores. These imports have substantially reduced order intake rates, production rates, shipment volumes and selling prices,” said James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and CEO of AK Steel. “We will continue to closely monitor market conditions and run our overall operations as efficiently as possible to continue to meet our customers’ needs.”

AK Steel, along with other domestic steel companies, has filed antidumping and countervailing duty trade cases with the International Trade Commission with respect to coated, cold-rolled and hot-rolled carbon steel products.

Ashland Works produces carbon steel slabs, along with hot dip galvanized and galvannealed coated steels.  The plant employs approximately 940 men and women.

Following the announcement by AK Steel, SunCoke Energy, a supplier of coke to AK Steel, issued the following statement:

“SunCoke supplies coke to AK Steel’s Ashland and Dearborn blast furnace operations from its Haverhill coke plant under a long-term, take-or-pay contract until 2022. Any temporary idling of their facility does not change AK Steel’s obligations. We expect AK Steel will continue to honor our contract and we will work with our customer in supplying coke to their other facilities.”

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