U.S. Steel will invest $1 billion into Mon Valley Works, including into the coke plant that supplies its blast furnaces in Northwest Indiana.

The steelmaker, one of the pillars of the Region's economy, plans to build a cogeneration facility at its Clairton Plant in Clairton and a new endless casting and rolling line at its Edgar Thomson Plant in Braddock, both in western Pennsylvania. The integrated mill will become the first in the United States and one of the few in the world that can do thin slab casting and hot rolled band production as one continuous process, replacing the traditional slab caster and hot strip mill.

“This is a truly transformational investment for U.S. Steel. We are combining our integrated steelmaking process with industry-leading endless casting and rolling to reinvest in steelmaking and secure the future for a new generation of steelworkers in western Pennsylvania and the Mon Valley,” President and CEO David Burritt said. “U. S. Steel’s investment in leading technology and advanced manufacturing aligns with our vision to be the industry leader in delivering high-quality, value-added products and innovative solutions that address our customers’ most challenging steel needs for the future. We believe that adding sustainable steel technology to our footprint will create long-term value for our employees, our region, our customers and our investors.”

The new continuous line could automate jobs out of existence because it will no longer be necessary to move slabs around, letting them cool off before reheating them and stretching them into coil at a separate hot strip mill facility, New York City-based steel analyst Charles Bradford said. The investment was needed in this case because the hot strip mill at Mon Valley Works dates back to 1938 and could only make smaller coils that don't command as high a price, but it's unlikely U.S. Steel would install the new technology at mills with more modern hot strip mills that can already produce wider coils, Bradford said.

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"The real question is if this is the best use of that money," he said. "Nucor and Steel Dynamics are building entirely new mills for that price tag, for $1 billion."

U.S. Steel also is investing $750 million over the next five years in a revitalization of assets in Gary Works as it looks to upgrade its manufacturing equipment. The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker said its latest investment in innovation will improve the quality of its products for the appliance, construction, industrial and automotive sectors, making Mon Valley Works the main source of its XG3 Advanced High Strength Steel for making lighter vehicles. It hopes to start making coils with the new system there in 2022. 

The company also will build a new cogeneration facility with state-of-the-art emissions control systems at its Clairton Plant at Mon Valley Works, converting coke oven gas into electricity to power its steelmaking and finishing facilities. The Clairton Plant is where U.S. Steel now makes all of its coke for burning in blast furnaces during the steelmaker process, after phasing out its coke batteries at Gary Works in 2015.

U.S. Steel said the project will reduce emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.


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.