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Great Lakes steel production rises by 23,000 tons

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Great Lakes steel production rises by 23,000 tons

Steel rolls along the line at the 80” Hot Strip Mill at Cleveland-Cliffs Indiana Harbor Works in East Chicago.

Great Lakes steel production rose by 23,000 tons last week, though national steel production ran further behind last year's pace, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel mills ticked back up over 80% capacity, a key threshold they operated at for most of last year, following the latest wave of industry consolidation, imposition of blanket tariffs of 25%, strong demand and generally favorable market conditions. Imports have been rising after steel prices soared to record highs, contributing to inflation and leading the U.S. to switch to a quota system with some trading partners.

Locally, steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly along the south shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, made 562,000 tons of metal in the week that ended April 16, up from 539,000 tons the previous week.

Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.766 million tons of steel last week, up 1.6% from 1.739 million tons the previous week and down 3.7% compared to 1.834 million tons the same time a year prior. 

Steel production so far in 2022 totals 26.416 million tons, a 1% decrease over 26.672 million tons through the same period last year.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 80.2% through April 16, up from 78% at the same point in 2021, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel capacity utilization, a key metric of the industry's profitability, was 80.9% last week, up from 80.8% a year earlier and up from 79.7% a week prior.

Steel production in the southern region, a wide geographic swath that encompasses many mini-mills and rivals the Great Lakes region in output, totaled 750,000 tons last week, up from 745,000 tons the week before, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Volume in the rest of the Midwest rose to 213,000 tons, up from 210,000 tons the week prior.

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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.

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