EAST CHICAGO | A blast furnace is smelting molten metal again after a glitch earlier this month at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor, where the Luxembourg-based steelmaker operates two mills.
The No. 3 blast furnace at Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago is up and running after the unplanned outage, spokesman Bill Steers said. ArcelorMittal has made the needed repairs after a turbo blower failed Aug. 8 at the mill on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
Workers were not affected by the outage of one of the five blast furnaces at the largest steelmaking complex in North America, Steers said. The shutdown also did not affect ArcelorMittal's ability to fill its customers' orders.
Nationally, U.S. steel mills are struggling with at least 20 percent more capacity than demand, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, has seen its shipments fall by 3.6 percent from 43.9 million tons over the first six months of 2012 to 42.3 million tons over the same period this year.
The steelmaker used the outage as an opportunity to do planned maintenance ahead of schedule at Indiana Harbor, which can make up to 10 million tons of steel a year. The East Chicago facility makes hot-rolled, cold-rolled and other sheet products that are used in cars, appliances, bridges and tubes.
The No. 3 blast furnace can make as much as 4,500 tons of steel per day, Steel Market Update estimates.