In response to weakening end-use market demand for steel in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, ArcelorMittal is taking steps to scale back its North American output, a spokesman for the company said.
ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbour mill has begun preparations to blow down the No. 4 blast furnace, according to the company. To “blow down” a furnace, iron and slag continues to be produced, but no raw materials are added until the upper part of the BF is empty.
"ArcelorMittal USA plans to work with the [United Steelworkers union] to minimise impact on our workforce for the duration of the outage by finding available opportunities for displaced workers in other areas of our operations," the company said. "ArcelorMittal will continue to engage with our customers in understanding the new market realities resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, which may require additional capacity optimisation to align our production with end use demand."
It was not immediately clear how the actions taken will impact the Indiana mill's output as actual operating rates fluctuate. The entire Indiana Harbor complex has approximately 6.4 million st of annual steelmaking capacity, according to a company fact sheet.
Separately, ArcelorMittal is also scaling back production at its Dofasco mill in Hamilton, Ontario, in response to weakening end markets, the company said.
As a result, AM Dofasco has begun the temporary blow down of the No. 3 BF at the facility as a precaution to preserve the asset for future production, the company said.
The No. 3 BF at Dofasco has an annual rated capacity of 789,250 st and is the smallest of the three blast furnaces at the facility, according to data from the Association for Iron and Steel Technology.
There are no employee jobs impacted by this move, ArcelorMittal said.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco ships 4.5 million st of steel annually, according to the company's website. -- Tradearabia News Service