Steel Mills

USS Idles Gary Works Tin Mill Indefinitely, Blames Weak Demand

Written by David Schollaert

US Steel has indefinitely idled the tin mill at its Gary Works in northwest Indiana, a company spokeswoman confirmed in an email to Steel Market Update on Thursday, Oct. 13.

The move could be a prolonged one, upwards of six months, according to an unconfirmed report.

US Steel

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker had temporarily idled Gary’s No. 5 tin line back in late August due to weaker demand and increased import volumes.

“The Gary Works tin division is indefinitely idled due to market conditions,” she said. “Our Midwest plant continues to produce tin.”

Presently no job losses are stemming from the idling because employees impacted by it were relocated to other areas of Gary Works, she added.

Roughly 240 workers have been moved throughout the complex, forcing some of the United Steelworkers (USW) workforce to cut back on hours, and thus pay, Mike Millsap, USW District 7’s director told The Times of Northwest Indiana.

Millsap added that the process of idling the tin mill is already underway, and workers have been warned the tin mill could stay closed for six months.

“It is my understanding that this is mainly due to an increase in imports,” he told the local paper.

The latest news come after the steelmaker idled the No. 8 blast furnace at Gary Works due to market conditions and high import levels back on Sept. 7.

Gary Works is US Steel’s largest steelmaking complex. It has raw steel capacity of 7.5 million tons per year. The plant makes hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and coated sheet — including tin mill products.

Tin products are used in the food and beverage container industry as well as in aerosol cans and in paint cans and pails, according to the company’s website.

As for imports, the US brought in 797,351.6 metric tons of tin plate in 2021, up 14.3% from 697,327.4 tons in 2020 and up 16.5% from 685,791.5 tons in 2019, according to Commerce Department figures.

So far this year, including licensing data for September and through Oct. 10, tin plate imports have reached 807,995 tons, a 25.3% gain over the same period of 2021.

SMU USS Gary Tin Idling fig1

Imported tin mill products now account for more than 60% of estimated domestic market consumption, the US Steel spokeswoman previously told SMU when the steelmaker initially idled the No. 5 tin line, saying that the temporary idling at Gary is “proof that increases in imported steel remain a very real threat to the livelihoods of the workforce at American steel producers.”

The latest move by the steelmaker follows other cutbacks in its tin-making operations in recent years. US Steel temporarily idled its East Chicago Tin finishing plant in 2015. The facility was idled indefinitely in late 2019. At the time US Steel said that a “significant contributor” to its decision was its low tin mill utilization rate driven by “the continued high levels of low-priced imports that have captured roughly half of the US tin mill products market.”

“These import levels make operating a three-facility footprint like ours unsustainable under current market conditions,” the company said in a release.

Additionally, the steelmaker has reportedly been trying to sell its USS-UPI LLC subsidiary in Pittsburg, Calif. Nothing has been confirmed but the deal would potentially be for redevelopment and the mill could stop operating in late 2023.

“We continue to monitor customer demand and market conditions to determine if additional adjustments are necessary to balance supply with demand,” the spokeswoman added.

By David Schollaert,

David Schollaert

Read more from David Schollaert

Latest in Steel Mills