Steel Mills

Cliffs Blast Furnace Status Update - All 8 Running: CEO

Written by Michael Cowden

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is running all eight of its active blast furnaces and has no plans to take significant downtime in the second quarter, the company’s top executive said.

“We do not have any major outages scheduled in Q2. We are focused on getting steel out the door,” Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said during a conference call with analysts on Thursday, April 22.

furnace1Goncalves had said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that the No. 7 furnace at Cliff’s Indiana Harbor steelmaking campus in northwest Indiana–the largest furnace in North America–would go down for maintenance after repairs to the blast furnace at its Middletown Works in Ohio were complete.

Work on the Middletown furnace is complete. And so it appears that no outage at Indiana Harbor No. 7 is happening until the third quarter at the earliest.

Close observers of the steel industry might note that Goncalves’ tally of eight furnaces is two fewer than the 10 blast furnaces he counted as being among Cliff’s portfolio during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

The reason: Cliff’s blast furnace in Ashland, Ky., acquired in its deal for the former AK Steel, has been permanently idled. “That’s dead. So take it out,” Goncalves said as he ticked through the status of each the company’s furnaces.

Also indefinitely idled is the No. 3 furnace at Indiana Harbor. “That’s dead. It’s not going to come back. Ever,” he said.

Goncalves swatted away rumors that the furnaces might be restarted to supply pig iron to electric-arc furnace (EAF) steelmakers. “Please, forget about that. … It’s not going to happen. Now we are no longer a supplier to EAFs, we are a competitor. So I am not going to supply them with pig iron,” he said.

Are the furnaces for sale?

“No. That’s not going to happen. They are under my control. They are not going to be supplying pig iron. And no one will buy those furnaces to produce pig iron,” Goncalves said.

The Ashland furnace, also known as Amanda, had iron-making capacity of 6,000 tons per day. The No. 3 furnace at Indiana Harbor had capacity of 2,500 tons per day. Both are dwarfed by the No. 7 furnace, which has capacity of 11,500 tons per day.

That information and updated blast furnace status intelligence can be found on SMU’s website. Go to the “Resources” tab at, select “Steel Mills” and then select “Furnace Status.”

Or you can simply click here.

SMU Note: Lourenco Goncalves will be speaking at this year’s SMU Steel Summit Conference in Atlanta on August 23-25.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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