Cleveland-Cliffs President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves and U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, came together Monday to call for policies that would benefit the American steel industry.
After Mrvan toured the Cleveland-Cliffs Burns Harbor steel mill, the two held a Zoom press conference calling for the American Jobs Plan infrastructure package, "Buy America" policies promoting union jobs, trade rules enforcement and a continuation of the previous administration's Section 232 tariffs and quotas.
"An industry cannot survive if it's only looking at the next quarter or the next year," Goncalves said. "Investments have to be made for the next generation. The industry depends on a return on investment in capital. Prices were artificially deflated because of dumping and subsidies. It was absurd. It took consolidation to focus on real jobs and economic development and a sustainable steel industry in this country. We need to take care of good-paying union jobs in the Midwest."
Mrvan said there was a sense of urgency to pass an infrastructure bill that would benefit the domestic steel industry. Building more roads, bridges and other infrastructure would help create more demand for steel, he said.
"I'm focusing every day on making sure the domestic steel industry is protected globally so it can be efficient, effective and green," he said. "It's a priority to create American jobs, to plan our infrastructure and to get the American economy back on track. There was aging roads, bridges and waterways, and a digital divide. This is an opportunity to invest in American manufacturing."
Mrvan said the Congressional Steel Caucus he co-chairs wrote a letter urging the Biden administration to leave the Section 232 tariffs in place. It also has been lobbying for more Buy America protections to "ensure a level playing field on the global market."
"We want to protect the American steel industry and invest in America," he said. "This is an opportunity to provide reinvestment in aging infrastructure and to bring industry and private businesses along to work on it. We're focusing the next couple of months on getting a successful infrastructure bill passed to support private businesses, invest and create jobs."
Cleveland-Cliffs already has hired more than 700 people at the former ArcelorMittal USA plants it acquired, and may hire more to keep up with demand if the infrastructure plan passes, Goncalves said.
"It means jobs," Mrvan said. "It means American steel will go into ports, bridges and waterways... We're getting through a pandemic and economic crisis and investments in infrastructure would let companies like Cleveland-Cliffs expand and increase their own investments."
Goncalves said Cleveland-Cliffs hopes to be aggressive about investing to make its steel mills modern and to maximize its return on investment.
"As a company, we're proud of being a good citizen," he said. "In Northwest Indiana, we want to grow our presence and be a good citizen. We want to improve what you have had here for decades. We want to make it better. That's my commitment. We want to work with Frank Mrvan, a champion for this area and this business, and work with last but not least the United Steelworkers union. We could not exist without each other and are on the same boat. We've very happy to work together."