Steel Mills

Kentucky to Extend Tax Incentives for AK Steel Ashland Works

Written by Sandy Williams

AK Steel will get help to restart the Ashland Works furnace from Kentucky legislators. The state Senate passed a house bill on Tuesday that would extend economic incentives from a 2014 measure to help AK Steel refurbish and restart the idled blast furnace at Ashland. The incentives were due to expire in July.

AK Steel planned to use the 2014 tax incentives to repair and reline the furnace. Upgrades were stopped when the furnace was idled in December 2015 in response to severe cuts in steel pricing and demand due to high levels of dumped and subsidized foreign steel into the U.S. market. The company laid off 500 of the 900 employees and created a ripple effect in the local coal industry, causing layoffs of miners in Eastern Kentucky that supply the metallurgical coal for Ashland Works.

Rep. Jill York (R-Grayson), who helped sponsor the bill, estimates that the furnace reline will cost around $50 million. House Bill 535 extends the 2014 incentives until 2019 and will be applicable to the cost of bringing the furnace back online, coverage that wasn’t included in the original measure.

“We appreciate the support of the Kentucky Legislature and Governor during these challenging times,” said AK Steel in an email to SMU. “Our blast furnace at Ashland Works has been temporarily idled since late December due to challenging domestic market conditions, including the flood of steel imports which is depressing market conditions and impacting operations.”

No date has been set for repairs and restart of the blast furnace said AK Steel spokeswoman Lisa Jester.

“We continue to evaluate the domestic and global market conditions and the market conditions have not sufficiently improved to allow us to either restart the furnace or make plans for a reline of the furnace at this time,” said Jester.

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