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Steel capacity utilization back over 85%
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Steel capacity utilization back over 85%

Steel capacity utilization back over 85%

Senior engineer Jeff Farus walks by the continuous heat treatment line recently upgraded with new capabilities at the Burns Harbor steel mill in 2011.

Great Lakes steel production ticked up by 1,000 tons last week, while U.S. steel mills rose back over 85% capacity utilization, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

National steel output is more than 20% higher than at the same time last year, when steel mills sunk to just over half-capacity early in the coronavirus pandemic. With strong demand and soaring prices, the mills have been operating at more than 80% capacity for most of this this year.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly along the south shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, made 639,000 tons of metal in the week that ended Oct. 16, up from 638,000 tons the previous week.

Overall, domestic steel mills in the United States made 1.882 million tons of steel last week, up 1.3% from 1.858 million tons the previous week, and up 21.5% compared to 1.549 million tons the same time a year prior, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shut down auto plants and other factories, greatly depleting the demand for steel.

So far this year, domestic steel mills in the United States have made 75.14 million tons of steel, a 20.3% increase compared to the 62.48 million tons made during the same period in 2020.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 81.3% through Oct. 16, up from 67.1% at the same point in 2020, according to AISI.

Steel capacity utilization nationwide was 85.3% last week, which was up from 70.1% at the same time a year ago and from 84.2% 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 788,000 tons last week, up from 768,000 tons the week before. Volume in the rest of the Midwest rose to 195,000 tons, up from 191,000 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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