Steel Mills

Goncalves blames USS for ITC tin products decision, USS fires back

Written by Ethan Bernard

Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves said he blames U.S. Steel’s lack of participation in the tin mill products trade case for an unfavorable US International Trade Commission (ITC) decision.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker vigorously contested that version of events.

Goncalves makes his case

“It is now clear that the decision by United States Steel Corporation not to participate as a petitioner in this trade case -or provide a substantive response to the ITC’s request for further information on the idling of tin lines in Gary and East Chicago, Ind., and the closure of UPI in California-directly led to the ITC’s negative determination,” Goncalves said in a statement on Thursday.

Cliffs said its statement comes after the ITC this week issued public documents detailing the rationale behind the tin mill products decision. Recall that case was brought by Cliffs and the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

Earlier this month, Cliffs said it was indefinitely idling tinplate production at its mill in Weirton, W.Va. The company said the move followed the ITC decision not to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on tinplate imports from a handful of countries. Cliffs said the idling would impact 900 jobs.

“Had U.S. Steel cooperated with the ITC, the Commission would not have been left without the information needed to discern the market forces behind U.S. Steel’s withdrawal from the tin mill products market in the United States,” Goncalves added.

U.S. Steel responds

A spokesperson for U.S. Steel stressed to SMU on Thursday that the steelmaker still produces tin mill products in the US – namely, at its Midwest Plant, which is part of its Gary Works in northwest Indiana.

“Although U.S. Steel was not a petitioner in the tin mill case, it fully cooperated with the US International Trade Commission, replying to its questionnaires,” the company spokesperson said in statement provided to SMU.  

“U.S Steel has been a leading petitioner for decades in successfully using the US trade laws to address unfair trade across a broad range of steel products from dozens of countries, ensuring a stronger future for steel workers and steel manufacturing in this country,” the spokesperson continued.

The statement concluded: “U.S. Steel remains in the tinplate business and continues to process orders from existing customers and accept orders from new customers.” (Emphasis theirs)

The role of UPI

Goncalves alleged that “U.S. Steel’s January 2022 announcement that it would shut down its UPI tin mill in Pittsburg, Calif., left the West Coast completely exposed to imports, particularly from Asian countries.”

U.S. Steel confirmed to SMU in late January 2024 that it had idled its USS-UPI LLC subsidiary in Pittsburg. The company said at the time that the idling occurred in December.

But the company had told key stakeholders in early 2022 of plans to close the plant.

Goncalves claimed the decision played “a major role in the surge of imported tin mill product that hit the US in mid-2022.”

Ethan Bernard

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