US Steel has decided to indefinitely idle the No. 3 blast furnace at its Mon Valley Works in western Pennsylvania following a roughly month-long maintenance outage.
“We expect planned maintenance on BF 3 to be completed and the furnace to be available for use this week. However, the furnace will remain down until market conditions improve,” a company spokeswoman said in an email to SMU on Monday, Sept. 26.
The statement was later revised to say the furnace would stay down “as we continue to balance our production with our order book.”
There are no layoffs associated with the idling, she added.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker took the No. 3 furnace offline on Aug. 30 for a shotcrete (sprayed concrete) reline and other maintenance. The outage had been pulled forward by more than a month. Sources had told SMU that the furnace was likely to remain idle after the work was complete.
That pattern – pulling forward maintenance first and then idling a plant – is not uncommon in a deteriorating steel market.
Mon Valley Works has two blast furnaces: No. 1 and No. 3. The No. 1 furnace has a daily ironmaking capacity of approximately 3,200 tons. The No. 3 furnace has a daily capacity of approximately 2,900 tons.
The furnaces are located at US Steel’s Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock, Pa. That facility makes slabs and rails them to the company’s Irvin Plant in West Mifflin, Pa., where they are rolled into sheet.
SMU has updated its blast furnace status table to reflect the idling of No. 3.
The idling means that US Steel is only operating one furnace each at its Mon Valley Works and at its Granite City Works near St. Louis. The company also announced earlier this month that it was idling the No. 8 furnace at its Gary Works in northwest Indiana. The result: US Steel is operating only five of its eight active blast furnaces.
The idlings at US Steel come after Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. restarted the C-5 furnace at its Cleveland Works in Ohio in August. The Cleveland-based steelmaker currently has seven furnaces operating – meaning there are now only a dozen active blast furnace in the US.
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