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Steel coils sit on wagons when leaving the Thyssenkrupp steel factory in Duisburg, Germany, Friday, March 2, 2018. Proposed tariffs of 25 percent on all steel imports has led U.S. Steel to reopen Granite Works in Illinois near St. Louis.

U.S. Steel announced it will restart a blast furnace and steelmaking operations at its Granite City Works plant in southern Illinois near St. Louis as a result of the announced tariffs of 25 percent on all steel imports.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker shuttered parts of the mill in late 2015 and early 2016, largely, it said, as a result of a glut of imports that depressed prices and made steel mills less profitable. U.S. Steel plans to bring 500 steelworkers back to work if President Donald Trump goes forward with plans to act on a Section 232 investigation that concluded a surge in steel imports was eroding the American steel industry and threatening national security.

“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” U. S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt said. “The Section 232 action announced by President Trump last week recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security.”

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U.S. Steel said it will need the additional steelmaking capacity to meet an expected increase in demand for its steel. The American Iron and Steel Institute estimates that about 26 percent of the steel consumed in the United States this year was made abroad, but tariffs would make the imports 25 percent more expensive.

The steelmaker hopes to ramp up the operation in Illinois over a four-month period.

“We’ve worked closely and cooperatively with leadership of the United Steelworkers to develop a plan that will help us work through the restart process in the safest, most efficient manner possible while enabling longer-term collaboration designed to improve the plant’s competitiveness,” Burritt said. “We appreciate and thank the USW leadership and membership for their passionate efforts around the Section 232 investigation as well as in support of the restart process at Granite City Works.”

All that's currently running at the mill are the pickle line, cold mill and finishing lines. U.S. Steel idled the blast furnaces and hot strip mill there, and plans to keep the mill's "A" blast furnace offline even after restoring steelmaking operations.

“Workers across the United States, especially those in steel towns like Granite City, have for too long been the victims of the illegal and unfair practices of our overseas trading partners, particularly China," United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said. "Our hope is that this marks the beginning of a much-needed recovery for the domestic steel industry and for American manufacturing... We hope this restart will breathe new life into the community and that the mill can continue to provide good jobs for workers and their families for generations to come."


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.