Steel Mills

Cliffs Expected to Take 80-90 Day Outage on Cleveland No. 5 Furnace: Sources

Written by Michael Cowden

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is expected to take an approximately 80-90 day planned outage on the No. 5 blast furnace at its Cleveland Works starting in mid to late March, according to market participants.

The outage is expected to last until roughly mid-June. It is not expected to impact customers because the Cleveland-based steelmaker can stock slabs ahead of the outage and transfer orders to other mills as necessary, sources said.

cliffs natural resourcesCliffs did not respond to requests for comment for this article. But the company said on its third-quarter earnings call that it planned an approximately $100 million upgrade and reline of the No. 5 furnace.

That work will allow Cliffs to charge more hot-briquetted iron (HBI) from its plant in Toledo, Ohio, into the furnace as well as increase its ability to use natural gas.

Cliffs is increasing use of HBI in its blast furnaces and of prime scrap in its basic oxygen furnaces to reduce its need for coke and to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the coking process.

Cleveland has two furnaces: No. 5 and No. 6. The former has daily iron-making capacity of 4,350 tons and the latter daily capacity of 4,150 tons, according to SMU’s blast furnace status table.

Market reaction to the news was muted. Steel is readily available amid short lead times and falling prices, and so even an extended outage is not expected to create any big waves in the market, sources said.

That’s a sharp change from a year ago, when even brief outages could cause near panic amid soaring prices, lean inventories and extremely limited availability from domestic mills, some noted.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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