Steelmakers are reviving shuttered steel mills and even looking to build a new one as 25 percent across-the-board tariffs strengthen the domestic steel industry.

Republic Steel and U.S. Steel both announced they would restart mills and bring steelworkers back to work. London-based Liberty House is reviving a steel mill ArcelorMittal closed in South Carolina. And Nucor, the largest steelmaker headquartered in the United States, announced plans to buy a micro mill in Florida.

U.S. Steel will bring back 500 jobs when it restarts one of the two idled blast furnaces at Granite City Works in Illinois, as well as associated steelmaking operations. Republic Steel announced the tariffs would allow it to restart its mill in Lorain, Ohio.

Republic Steel will revive its idled electric arc furnace, casters and rolling mills — more than a million tons of new production capacity in total. Republic expects to bring back 1,000 jobs to make bar, coil and seamless tube products.

"Republic is more than prepared to support market demand that has been previously supplied by imports," Republic Steel President and CEO Jaime Vigil said. "We maintained our Lorain facility while it's been idled, waiting for the opportunity to restart, and it appears that time is finally here."

Liberty House bought the shuttered Georgetown steelworks in South Carolina from ArcelorMittal in December, and expects to have the 600,000-square-foot plant back this spring. The company will bring back as many as 250 steelworkers to operate the 540,000-ton-a-year electric arc furnace and a 680,000-ton-a-year rod mill.

“Securing the Georgetown furnace and mill is a major milestone for us, marking our first major step in the USA. The melting and rolling facilities here give us a formidable entry to the American market and provide a strong platform for expansion," GFG Alliance Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta said. "We see major prospects for the metals industry here and we want to apply the same GREENSTEEL sustainable strategy to our American plants as we are already delivering in the UK and Australia. We’re grateful for the support we have from the council, the state government and the union, and we look forward to rebuilding the business and bringing quality industrial employment back to the site and to the local and regional supply chain. We’ve already had customers contacting us about placing orders, so we’re keen to get back up and running as quickly as possible."

ArcelorMittal shut down the Georgetown mill in 2015, during the height of the import crisis and after it opened AM/NS Calvert as a 50/50 joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to serve auto plants across the South and Mexico.

“Throughout the process, ArcelorMittal has been steadfast in our goal of maintaining the Georgetown steelmaking operation to preserve jobs and maximize the value of the property for our shareholders," ArcelorMittal President and CEO John Brett said. "While bittersweet for ArcelorMittal, we are hopeful that today’s announcement is a celebration for Liberty Steel and GFG Alliance, the United Steelworkers and the Georgetown community. We appreciate the patience of all of our stakeholders while we finalized this important transaction.”

Nucor plans to invest $240 million to build a 350,000-ton-a-year rebar micro mill in Frostproof, Florida. It will employ 250 people at an average of $66,000 a year when construction is completed in two years.

"Nucor has always focused on growing our business to better serve our customers," President and CEO John Ferriola said. "We are building this rebar micro mill in a great and growing market where demand is strong and there is currently an abundant supply of scrap, a good portion of which is handled by our scrap business, The David J. Joseph Company. Consistent with our planned strategy of being a low-cost producer, this micro mill will give us a cost advantage over our competitors who are shipping rebar into the region from long distances."


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.