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U.S. steel production up nearly 8 percent in 2011

Raw steel production in Indiana and the Chicago area, which includes U.S. Steel in Gary, shown above, was 508,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday. Early estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute show that U.S. steel production rose 7.9 percent in 2011 compared to last year.

Early estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute show that U.S. steel production rose 7.9 percent in 2011 compared to last year.

In 2011, domestic steel mills produced an estimated 95.6 million tons of raw steel, compared to about 88.6 million tons in 2010, the Washington-based trade association for the North American steel industry said Tuesday. The group is expected to release final data later this month.

Raw steel production in Indiana and the Chicago area, the nation's second-largest steel-producing region, was 508,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday. Production was up from 494,000 tons the prior week. Although final calculations haven't been made, region steel mills typically produce more than a quarter of the country's total raw steel output.

Production in the Southern District, the nation's largest steel-producing region, was estimated at 634,000 tons during the period that ended Saturday, up from 625,000 tons produced a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced about 1.9 million tons of steel last week, up 12.8 percent from the same period in 2010.

U.S. steel mills operated at 75.3 percent of the available production capacity last week, which is down from a 76.7 percent production rate a week earlier. Year-to-date estimates for 2011 said the industry had a 75 percent capacity utilization rate, which is up from slightly more than 70 percent in 2010.

The American Iron and Steel Institute represents interests of the North American steel industry and its member companies represent about 80 percent of U.S. and North American steel production capacity.

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