Steel Mills

Cliffs to idle Weirton mill after tinplate trade case decision

Written by Laura Miller

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. announced on Thursday, Feb. 15, that it will indefinitely idle tinplate production at its mill in Weirton, W.Va.

The steelmaker said the move is necessary after the recent trade case ruling in which the US International Trade Commission (ITC) decided not to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on tinplate imports from a handful of countries.

The move will impact 900 employees, all of whom were being issued WARN notices on Thursday.

Despite the idling, Cliffs said it is maintaining its 2024 steel sales volume guidance of 16.5 million short tons.

Cliffs’ chairman, president, and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement that the trade case was the company’s “final effort to maintain tinplate production here in America.”

Despite evidence of dumping and subsidization, “the ITC shockingly ruled against imposition of tariffs, keeping the uneven playing field in place and making it impossible for us to viably produce tinplate,” he said.

Cliffs and the United Steelworkers (USW) union were the only two petitioners in the tin mill products trade case filed in January 2023. Goncalves commented that the company has “been upfront and open with union leadership throughout this process and our partnership with the USW remains unbreakable.”

Goncalves blamed those opposing the imposition of duties for Cliffs’ announcement on Weirton: “To the tin can makers and consumer groups who irrationally fought against American jobs and a domestic-based food supply chain, this outcome is due to your own greed,” he stated.

During the trade case, one of the issues can makers and consumers brought up was that some of the tin mill products necessary to produce their goods were not able to be sourced domestically.

Cliffs, however, said on Thursday that it recently completed a run of drawn and ironed material with zero defects, proving that the Weirton mill and employees “are able to manufacture all the products the market demands.”

“The short-term thinking of American tinplate consumers, who sided with the foreign cheaters to oppose our petition, will eventually lead to long-term regrets,” commented USW international president David McCall in a statement.

“It should be obvious that foreign suppliers are destroying our domestic supply chain so that American consumers of tin mill products become dependent on foreign producers and have no options when their subsidized and dumped products are no longer available at cheap prices,” he added.

Laura Miller

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