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ArcelorMittal turns first annual profit since 2011

ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor mills in East Chicago are shown above. The steelmaker made $1.8 billion in profit last year.

ArcelorMittal reported annual earnings of $1.8 billion last year, the first annual profit it's had since 2011.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker, one of the Calumet Region's largest employers, had lost $7.9 billion in 2015 and hadn't turned an annual profit in five years. ArcelorMittal ended the year on a strong note with a $809 million profit in the fourth quarter.

“2016 was a year of progress for ArcelorMittal, characterized by improving market conditions, a strong contribution from our Action 2020 program and steps from governments to address unfair trade," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal said. "As a result, (revenue) was comfortably in excess of initial expectations and, furthermore, we have delivered on our commitment to prioritize debt reduction, significantly strengthening our balance sheet and ending the year with the lowest level of net debt since the creation of the company."

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Part of ArcelorMittal's 2016 profit was the result of $832 million in one-time savings from employee benefits after it signed a new labor contract with its U.S. workers last year, including nearly 20,000 in Northwest Indiana.

"We enter 2017 with good momentum in the business and the market. Our increased confidence is reflected in the board’s decision to increase capital expenditure for 2017," Mittal said. "The improvement in performance is, however, from a low base so we will need to continue to prioritize improved returns."

In the last quarter, ArcelorMittal made significant improvements at its Indiana Harbor steel mill in East Chicago. It installed a new caster at No. 3 Steelshop, worked to restore the 80-inch hot strip mill, and did finishing upgrades.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.