Raw steel production in the Great Lakes rebounded last week, jumping up to 625,000 tons from the prior week’s 609,000 tons.
In an unprecedented import crisis, local steel output has been much lower than normal because of soaring imports that snatched a record-breaking 29 percent of the total market share last year, when China exported a record 120 million tons of steel, disrupting the world market. However, imports have started to taper off after domestic steelmakers filed trade cases.
Great Lakes steel output rose by 19,000 tons, or 2.6 percent, in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output fell by 0.77 percent during the same period.
Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, mainly Lake and Porter counties. Indiana, which also has steelmaking operations in Fort Wayne and Crawfordsville, has led the nation in steel production for more than 30 years, largely because of the big local mills on the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Calumet Region.
Production in the Southern District, which spans mini-mills across the South, fell to 563,000 tons last week, down from 594,000 a week before.
Total U.S. raw steel production last week was about 1.65 million tons, down from 1.67 million tons a week earlier.
Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 70.7 percent last week, up from 69.8 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been a more robust 76.4 percent at the same time a year earlier, but some industry analysts say it wouldn’t be healthy unless it were over 90 percent.
Year-to-date steel output has been 8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 67.3 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Output had been 9 million tons at the same time in 2015.