ArcelorMittal blast furnace in East Chicago goes down

2013-08-16T12:10:00Z 2014-05-06T16:07:10Z ArcelorMittal blast furnace in East Chicago goes downJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

EAST CHICAGO | A blast furnace has gone down at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, the largest steelmaking complex in North America.

The outage was not scheduled, spokesman Bill Steers said. A turbo blower, which blows air through the blast furnace during the steelmaking process, failed last week.

No one was injured when the huge steam turbine-driven blower stopped blasting air into the No. 3 furnace at Indiana Harbor West on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, has identified spares and the necessary repair equipment, Steers said. Repairs are underway, and the furnace will resume normal operations once the repairs are completed.

The company is taking advantage of the shutdown to do planned maintenance repairs earlier than scheduled. The outage is not expected to affect shipments at a time when U.S. steel mills are suffering from overcapacity of more than 20 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

"ArcelorMittal does not anticipate any impact to meet customer demand as a result of the outage," Steers said.

The steelmaker's sprawling 3,100-acre complex at Indiana Harbor has five blast furnaces, and an annual steel-producing capacity of 10 million tons. The mill makes hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and hot-dipped galvanized sheet products that end up in cars, appliances, bridges and pipes.

Steel Market Update estimates the No. 3 furnace has a raw steelmaking capacity of 4,500 tons per day.

The blast furnace outage is not the first in Indiana Harbor this year. During the second quarter conference call, ArcelorMittal officials said 300,000 tons of production were lost earlier this year because of blast furnace issues at the East Chicago plant.

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